FL: Clay Commission Allows Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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Photo Credit: C. M. Guerrero

Medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment centers now are allowed to set up shop in unincorporated areas of Clay County subject to operating and location restrictions as a conditional land use.

The Clay County Commission voting 3-2 Tuesday enacted an ordinance allowing those businesses under the county Land Development Code in the same zoning districts where regular pharmacies are located.

The decision came the day before the county’s temporary one year moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and treatment facilities expires.

Commissioners Gayward Hendry and Wayne Bolla and Vice Chairman Mike Cella supported the ordinance. Dissenting were commission Chairman Gavin Rollins and Commissioner Dianne Hutchings, who wanted a ban. No residents spoke during the final hearing before commissioners.

Bolla noted that 7 out of 10 people voted county- and statewide to approve legalizing medical marijuana. So, he is voting to allow it in Clay County.

Hutchings said she recognizes that residents county-and statewide previously voted to medical marijuana available. She said that means having access to the medical marijuana, Access is not a problem because medical marijuana dispensaries offer home delivery, she said.

“I personally am still supportive of a ban because I know there is more coming and I am not ready to open the door on recreational marijuana,” Hutchings said.

The Clay ordinance bans the dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school. It restricts the operating hours to between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The ordinance uses the state-prescribed zoning formula for allowance of those businesses.

On Jan. 2, the county Planning Commission in a 3-2 vote recommended allowing those medical marijuana dispensaries as a conditional use.

Until now, the Town of Orange Park was the only Clay community allowing medical marijuana dispensaries subject to restrictions on operations and location. Green Cove Springs City Council continues to mull over the issue as a temporary moratorium remains in place.

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