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Flagler Beach Delays Medical Pot Ban Vote For 2 Weeks, But Hazy Evidence Unchanged

| July 27, 2017

Commissioner Marshall Shupe was absent this evening, so the Flagler Beach City Commission voted 3-1 to delay its second reading of a proposed ban on medical pot dispensaries until August 10. (© FlaglerLive)

Commissioner Marshall Shupe was absent this evening, so the Flagler Beach City Commission voted 3-1 to delay its second reading of a proposed ban on medical pot dispensaries until August 10. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler Beach City Commission agreed tonight to delay voting on its controversial proposal to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries in the city until Aug. 10—not because any commissioners are changing their mined: they voted 3-2 to adopt the ban, on first reading, two weeks ago. But because one of the commissioners who was in that majority, Marshall Shupe, was absent this evening.

Commissioners voted 3-1 to table the matter, with Kim Carney in dissent. “I think it’s a little bit of a strategy that I don’t necessarily agree with,” Carney said. Commissioner Rick Belhumeur agreed to the delay “to be fair,” even though he and Carney voted in opposition to the ban two weeks ago. Had tonight’s vote on the ordinance been a 2-2 tie, it would have died, and the matter would have been over.

A 3-2 vote for the ban is not necessarily the end of it, however: under Flagler Beach’s charter, the mayor could veto any vote, which could then be overridden only with a super-majority of at least 4 or 5 votes. It’s a very rarely used tool. Mayor Linda Provencher has not said whether she’d use it. But she was surprised at Commission Chairman Jane Mealy siding with the majority on the ban two weeks ago.

Judging from the nine or 10 people who addressed the commission on the issue this evening, it’s the commission’s proponents of the ban who are ion the minority, when 70 percent of Flagler Beach voters, the same rate as state voters, approved the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana last November.

Mealy, Commissioner Joy McGrew and Shupe two weeks ago said they are displeased with the way the Legislature drew up regulations about medical pot dispensaries. The law now gives local governments two choices. They must not impose any limits on the number of dispensaries in their jurisdiction any more than they would be allowed to impose limits on the number of pharmacies. Alternately, they have the authority to ban all dispensaries. But there is no middle ground.

Mealy and McGrew both said they voted for the medical marijuana amendment last November. But they both said they did not want the city to have no say in regulating dispensaries.

“If you think we’re the ones that are stalling it we’re not the ones that are stalling it, it’s the state that’s not doing their job,” McGrew said.

Neither explained why they wanted to regulate dispensaries or how: tonight’s discussion from their end focused exclusively on their opposition to the state pre-empting the city from drawing up some rules. But two weeks ago Mealy, speaking without evidence, said she was worried about Flagler Beach ending up being the lone government in Flagler that would allow dispensaries, and if that were the case, the city could end up with 50 of them.

Yet the Palm Coast City Council has given strong indications that while they approved a moratorium on medical pot dispensaries to give the Legislature time to draw up regulations, they would be opposed to a ban on dispensaries. And there has been no evidence, in Florida or elsewhere, of swarms of dispensaries opening in particular localities that market forces, more effectively than state or municipal planning, would regulate.

“We have more information that we have to deal with and that we base our information on,” McGrew said in defense of her position. But she presented none of that information. She also welcomed the delay in the vote on the ordinance on second reading, saying the delay will allow time for people to get past “misinformation.” She did not give any evidence of misinformation, or specify what she meant by “misinformation.”

Nor has the administration provided the slightest information, analysis, evidence or data justifying the ban, reducing it precisely to what commissioners advocating it claim it not to be: a policy decision based on their assumptions rather than on any factual basis. What evidence prevails from states where medical marijuana has been implemented does not support commissioners’ contentions that the city would be either overrun by dispensaries or that the dispensaries would attract unseemly crowds.

The numerous people who addressed the commission did not sway the votes either way, though they sharpened the divide between elective assumptions on the dais and plebeian evidence below.

A Flagler Beach resident who was the equivalent of a city commissioner and wrote ordinances related to medical marijuana issue in his town in Colorado previously said there were four dispensaries in a town with a total of 63 businesses. “We had no increase in crime,” he said. “The biggest thing about medical marijuana dispensaries is people are afraid what kind of people they’re going to draw. Well I can tell you. They’re going to draw you, and you, and you, and you,” he said, as he went around the room pointing at people who were decidedly not, on the whole, potheads.

Another man told commissioners that people who go to dispensaries need medical help. “These are people that need medication, and to put it so far away or to not have it at all is I think criminal,”  he said.

A South Daytona Avenue resident said his mother had been addicted to prescription pills for more than three decades. She stopped a few months ago thanks to medical pot, he said. “Please be open minded when you take this decision and base it on fact not emotion,”  he said.

And on went the public comment, with others reminding commissioners that almost three out of four Floridians had voted for the constitutional amendment.

Sandra Edmonds, a new resident in Flagler Beach, told commissioners that whether it’s marijuana or a stop sign, “70 percent of your constituents voted for this, and you’re acting like a parent that says No.” She said it wasn’t the place of commissioners to hand down an ordinance second-guessing voters. “70 percent of the people want something, and that should be the end of it, period.” She also reminded commissioners that most of them were elected with about half that vote tally.

The commission takes up the ordinance again at its Aug. 10 meeting.

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13 Responses for “Flagler Beach Delays Medical Pot Ban Vote For 2 Weeks, But Hazy Evidence Unchanged”

  1. JimBob says:

    You think Palm Coast would allow Flagler Beach to skim the cream off of fifty pot dispensaries? If so, you don’t have walking around sense.

  2. Theresa Boyd says:

    The commissioners led us to believe that they had no control on anything regarding the dispensaries. Your article leads me to think that only limiting the number of dispensaries is controlled by the state. I would like clarification, Can our city control the way the dispensaries operate? i.e. they type of security that would be required, where they can be placed? etc.

  3. WhoKnows says:

    Currently Flagler Beach allows Medical Dispensaries in the Highway Commercial District as a special exception. This ordiance has been in effect since 2014. This fact has been left out of all news articles. The Highway Commercial District in Flagler Beach is the area where the Publix Plaza is and the Old Food Lion Plaza west including the area where Eagle’s nest storage is up to Tomoka Marine. Under current code it would be up to the owners of those parcels and shopping centers to decide if they wanted to rent space to a medical dispensarie. If you read the state law it either allows cities to ban the dispensaries or not regulate them at all. The only regulations that could apply would be those that applied to other similar businesses, ie lotitering, etc. Most of the people in Flagler Beach that are protesting the ban on dispensaries don’t understand the facts. Some of them even think they will be allowed to go there and purchase marijuana. Again, even if they don’t put a ban in place there is already a city ordinance that prohibits them except in Highway Commercial. We will never see a dispensary in General Commerical or Tourist Commercial.

  4. Dave says:

    Just hurry up because I’m sick of buying my marijuana from underage kids in the streets of south side Bunnell, seems much safer and legitimate if there was a safe place to purchase my medical marijuana, I wouldn’t mind paying taxes either

  5. Will says:

    Do you want to see multiple medical marijuana dispensaries set up on either side of SR 100 operating from 9 AM (or earlier) through 10 PM (or later) without the local government being able to enact and enforce additional ordinances?

    There are apartments to the west of Publix in this ‘commercial’ district. They would have no local legislative say in local ordinances governing these new businesses.

    If these businesses bring people to Flagler Beach in large quantities is the Highway Commercial area prepared for that traffic? Without the ability to limit hours of operation they could run from early morning to late at night.

    Credit card companies do not process transactions for marijuana. That means these folks would be walking around with cash. That increases the risk for anyone walking around that area for hold ups.

    Localities can create local ordinances for bars, restaurants and farmers markets but not for dispensaries?

    Without the ability for local ordinances the ban is a good idea.

  6. Sw says:

    Built it and they will come. If no then PC will reap the benefits. Then, vote ALL the old thinking fogies out. I would be tired of it if i were you all

  7. Sw says:

    @ will great pt. But should the residence have to wait til the year 2025 before the powers that be decide

  8. Wishful Thinking says:

    Couple of ideas…
    A) Pass ordinance per Flagler Beach to allow medical pot sold’ under their current zoning and get Travis Hutson and Paul Renner to get Gov to hold a special legislative session to RESTORE the home rule zoning rights that the idiots took away in the first place… Who is gonna sue them? Would it be worthwhile for any prospective dispensary to bother even want better more easily accessible location than ‘before the bridge’?

    B) Pass ordinance ( for now anyway) defining medical pot the same as any other ‘drug’ that must be sold in a licensed pharmacy and be done with it !.. That gives at least 3 places CVS, Publix and the pharmacy on beachside.
    Would be interesting to see how our Senator and Rep would deal with either of the above decisions by Flagler Beach. Hmmmm

  9. Kathy says:

    Why vote? Guess 70 percent does not matter!

  10. Florida Voter says:

    @ Wishful Thinking:
    In a previous article on the topic I said much the same as your idea in B.
    Medical Marijuana (at least in pill or oil form) should be treated no different from ANY OTHER MEDICINE prescribed by a doctor. States already have special regulations offering further restrictions on some medicines, for example purchases of pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are tracked to help reduce abuse. Do we need anything more for marijuana? Why do we need special “medical dispensaries?”

    It’s a prescription medicine, so why can’t pharmacies sell it?

  11. Dave says:

    Pharmacy’s can’t sell it because it is not FDA regulated, Marijuana is still illegal federally, it will up to the state to put it’s own regulatory system in place, And still pharmacies won’t be able to sell it.

  12. Dave says:

    There are many cancer causing substances the FDA does allow us to consume , and further more has promoted us to ingest with out any warnings like meat and cheese ,but marijuana is still not concidered a medicine by the goverment even though it has been proven to be so numerous times over without ever causing any deaths

  13. MannyHM says:

    During Prohibition, criminals became quite rich and powerful.
    Now, drug dealers have gotten rich from drugs that are not made available legitimately.
    Read about Prohibition and analyze on how it applies to the present.

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