Medical marijuana may be coming to Franklin County but there are going to be rules.
County commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to impose a moratorium on decisions concerning zoning and legal marijuana until the issue can be addressed at a public workshop next year.
County Attorney Michael Shuler and Commissioner William Massey both told commissioners they have received inquiries about the possibility of production and distribution of medical marijuana in Franklin County.
Massey said he has been called several times by Dr. Dareld Morris, a Fort Myers osteopath who expressed an interest in finding a 30,000 to 40,000 square foot facility to house a production, packaging and distribution center for medical marijuana.
Massey said Morris, who owns a weight loss and wellness clinic in Lee County, represents a South Florida investment group. He is also a Franklin County native who graduated from Carrabelle High School, and whose father once owned and operated the hospital in Carrabelle.
Shuler said several weeks ago, he was approached by attorneys/lobbyists for San Felasco Nurseries Inc. of Gainesville, a wholesale nursery that operates under the name “Grandiflora.”
San Felasco is one of only six nurseries tapped to grow the valuable crop in Florida and was the last approved for the privilege. Other firms chosen are Costa Nursery Farms, of Miami; Alpha Foliage of Homestead; Knox Nursery of Winter Garden; Hackney Nursery Company of Tallahassee; and Chestnut Hill Tree Farm of Alachua.
In order to qualify as a grower, nurseries had to demonstrate they had been in business for at least 30 years and had at least 400,000 plants of some kind currently under cultivation.
Shuler and members of the county board of commissioners will attend a Feb. 4 conference on Florida’s Amendment 2, which allowed for the legalization of medical marijuana, organized by the Florida Association of Counties. The meeting will take place at Embassy Suites - Lake Buena Vista in Osceola County.
Topics on the agenda include “From Seed to Sale: Cultivation/Processing, Dispensary, Delivery,” “Lessons learned from implementation of medical marijuana in other states,” “Law enforcement and regulation of secondary impacts” and “Making the most of local control zoning, ordinances, moratoriums, revenue and fees.” Attendees will also hear a summary of the 2017 Legislative Medical Marijuana Bill.
According to its website, the Florida Association of Counties supports maintaining local authority to determine land use, zoning, and other regulatory standards for marijuana cultivation, processing, and distribution. The association also backs a taxation or fee structure to help counties recoup any and all costs in public services, such as law enforcement, and regulatory enforcement.
The association also backs legislation that provides “a comprehensive health-based regulatory system where the (Florida Department of Health) is responsible for licensing cultivation sites, dispensing facilities, and manufacturers of marijuana for medicinal purposes.”