On Wednesday, the city of Punta Gorda voted to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open within city limits.
That’s exciting news for Macey Jones who was injured in an accident at 18.
“They wanted to put me on 5 different prescription drugs that have at least 10 side effects for each drug. So we’re looking at about 50 different side effects. What 18-year-old should be living with that?” Jones said.
Eventually, she was able to get a medical marijuana prescription, which she said made a tremendous difference. She now works to help people qualify for the medicine, but like many of her patients, she has to drive 45 minutes away to pick it up.
“Patients are driving three counties over just to get their medicine,” Jones said.
She’s hoping someone will open up a dispensary in Punta Gorda after city leaders voted to overturn a year-long ban they implemented last August.
“I think its a great idea. It’s legal, the patients need it and shouldn’t have to travel forever to other counties, other areas to get it,” said Punta Gorda resident Melanie Whitehouse.
In order to qualify for medical marijuana, patients have to have a debilitating condition. That includes cancer, epilepsy, HIV, PTSD, Parkinson’s or a terminal illness.
Punta Gorda Vice Mayor Gary Wein said they originally banned dispensaries because they didn’t want to be the only city in the area allowing them. But as others have come around, he said there’s a need, especially for their aging population.
“Studies are showing where medical marijuana is available opioid overdose go down by 20-25 percent,” Wein said.
Now if someone wanted to open a dispensary in the city, they would just have to go through the city’s code office to get a permit.