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Ban On: Overriding Commissioner’s Plea, Flagler Enacts Prohibition on Medical Pot Shops

| January 8, 2018

From left, County Commissioners Greg Hansen, Dave Sullivan and Charlie Ericksen Monday morning voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Flagler County. (© FlaglerLive via Flagler County TV)

From left, County Commissioners Greg Hansen, Dave Sullivan and Charlie Ericksen Monday morning voted to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated Flagler County. (© FlaglerLive via Flagler County TV)

The ban on medical marijuana dispensaries is now in effect in unincorporated Flagler County. The County Commission this morning, ignoring an “appeal” from one of its own to reverse course, voted 3-2 on the second reading of an ordinance that prohibits the siting of any dispensaries anywhere outside of Palm Coast, Flagler Beach or Bunnell.


Bunnell is enacting a similar ban. Palm Coast and Flagler Beach approved ordinances that limit dispensaries to specific areas of town: they’re prohibited on the beach side in Flagler Beach, leaving them permissible along State Road 100. In Palm Coast, they’re permissible along State Road 100, Old Kings Road and Palm Coast Parkway. There are no medical marijuana dispensaries preparing to open just yet.

This morning’s vote ends a long debate on the county commission that saw the panel shift back and forth over the months, between allowing and banning dispensaries, and with Commissioners Greg Hansen, Dave Sullivan and Charlie Ericksen switching votes or position along the way. The three ended up voting for the ban, with Commissioners Nate McLaughlin and Don O’Brien consistently in favor of dispensaries.

None of the votes were mere formality. Each time the issue led to debate on the commission and drew often passionate public comment, as was the case today. A woman who said she’d gone through four cancers and innumerable surgeries pleaded with commissioners to allow the dispensaries, saying she could not understand their reasoning against them. She said people who frequent dispensaries are like her: “gray” and “old,” and struggling to reduce their levels of pain.

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On the other hand, opponents of dispensaries said the businesses bring crime and destabilize communities–two claims that have been proven to be true only to the extent that many businesses, including convenience stores, banks, pharmacies and grocery stores, are also the target of robberies. What has not been shown to be the case, and what opponents of dispensaries have not acknowledged, is the claim that dispensaries are targeted more than other businesses. In fact, what studies have been conducted (they’re few) show that banks and convenience stores are still ahead of medical pot dispensaries as robbery or burglary targets. But one recurrent theme in the many local government meetings dealing with the issue has been the distance from factual claims that opponents of medical marijuana have brought to the debate.

The ban in unincorporated Flagler will not have a significant impact on residents–at least not for now, and not differently than does the non-existence of pharmacies in unincorporated Flagler. For years residents have had to travel to Flagler Beach or to Palm Coast for their pharmaceuticals. And medical marijuana patients also have the option of ordering product by mail, though it’s expensive.

Today, McLaughlin took a new approach as he attempted to sway at least one more vote his way. He said the ban would “basically segregate district five, the west side, from the rest of the county,” even though the west side–which McLaughlin represents–is “poised for growth,” with a $1 million fire station soon to be built at the corner of State Road 100 and County Road 305 in recognition of that area’s expected growth. “This is essentially an effect against that area of the county,” McLaughlin said of the ban.

“I want to be clear,” he added, citing emails and online comments. “These are not, cannot, will not be pot shops.” He said 40,414 citizens in Flagler, or 71.2 percent, approved the constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana in November 2016, and that their wishes should be respected even if it takes local governments some effort to work through compromises.

But his plea fell short.

“We just heard a plea to give it a try,” said Ericksen, who had bristled earlier when a member of the public accused him of voting on an issue he had said explicitly he did not understand. “Well I still think the unincorporated part of the county can go with the ban and then we’ll learn if Palm Coast and Flagler Beach will have a good episode, and then we’ll bring it up at some point. I’m not ready to change my vote at this point.”

Sullivan said he was voting for the ban “in accordance with what the state gave us the prerogative to do.” State law gives local governments the option either to ban dispensaries in their jurisdictions outright, or to allow them in the same way that they do pharmacies–which is to say, with no additional regulations.

“We are not denying access to medical marijuana to anybody in Flagler County,” Hansen said, calling it a “quality of life issue.”

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19 Responses for “Ban On: Overriding Commissioner’s Plea, Flagler Enacts Prohibition on Medical Pot Shops”

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank goodness the ban passed! Thank you! Thank you! This is a quality of life issue. It was not that long ago people in Florida could not buy any medical marijuana. Why not be grateful that you can buy it in Flagler now?

    This is about a huge pot industry licking its chops to make a ton of money. Not about the people.

    Kudos to the commissioners who did not back down from common sense ban.

  2. Peaches McGee says:

    Do they realize the voters who voted for medical marijuana are the same ones that will vote them out of office?

  3. Coyote says:

    To Palm Coast and Flagler Beach : Please, Please ensure that NONE of the revenue from any dispensaries in your areas goes back to the county.

    And, Thank You for listening to your constituency for once, at least on this issue.

  4. Florida voter says:

    What are people’s objections to MEDICINE?

    Is it possible to SUE the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT for having cannabis still listed as a Schedule I drug? The DEA’s definition:

    “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”

    This is clearly not applicable to cannabis since there are documented, researched, and approved medical uses. The fact that cannabis is sill listed with LSD, ecstasy, and heroin is causing problems for legitimate users of this medicine.

    https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml

  5. I Be Erudite says:

    @Coyote,

    What revenue would you be referring to? Do you realize the state law prohibits taxing medical marijuana? There is little upside for revenue staying in the community. All profits will be sucked away by big Marijuana and taken out of the community. Just saying!

  6. Dave says:

    The wellness of life for the poor ,the ones who need it most,the children, the elderly, is now being taken away, not everyone can drive easily across counties to pick up their medicine, Why would county commisioners want to make life harder for these sick individuals. SAD DAY FOR FLAGLER COUNTY. VOTE THEM OUT

  7. John dolan says:

    The Commissioners have decided the people in Mondex have no constitutional rights. This is not only prejudicial and discriminatory it is racist! Vote them out.

  8. YankeeExPat says:

    If that’s the case Why not make Flagler County a dry county such as Lafayette County and Liberty and Washington counties.

    The difference is that the town folk here would be at the doors of the commissioners with pitchforks and torches…… and a rope!

    This is truly an ass backwards community!

  9. daddybear says:

    once again the assholes of flagler have risen………maybe SOMEDAY they will have to face the pain of no meds that will help them except this!!!

  10. Sarah says:

    A year ago you would have to drive to many states away! Hundreds of miles. Now people are whining they will have to drive within their own county. Last time this was voted on for the state of Florida it failed. Be happy that Florida passed it. That is huge. Don’t get greedy with wanting it anywhere withing the county. We do not have pharmacies in unincorporated Flagler. Get a grip people. Be grateful for being able to drive to Palm Coast and Flagler Beach. It can even be mailed to you!

  11. MannyHM says:

    Folks with legitimate need for pain control, untractable seizure, and severe loss of appetite should be the only voters. The rest are driven by fear. Medical need should trump fear of addiction or of crime. These folks are suffering, please reconsider.

  12. layla says:

    To John Dolan, is it racist that CVS or Walgreens won’t put a drugstore out there? Is it racist that Flagler Beach and other areas don’t have a CVS or Walgreens? Not many have any idea what this ordinance was about and also don’t realize the communities don’t get a single dime from any of this. Every bit of it goes to the Marijuana moguls.

  13. stemwinder says:

    Commissioners Greg Hansen, Dave Sullivan and Charlie Ericksen, VOTE THEM OUT!

  14. Really says:

    And yet the black market and illegal dispensaries (wink wink) get the go ahead green light to sell in all our communities along with all the other drugs and criminal activity that go along with it.Nice job see ya at voting time.. Legalize it and move on already.smh

  15. Mikey p says:

    Absolutely redickless. There are bars, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores that sell the true evil in this county. It’s called alcohol. Then we have a few very well known pill pushing doctors in town that are somehow still in business . Those are our major issues in this county. I’ve been drunk and done some real dumb shit in my life and I’ve smoked a joint and laughed and hurt no one. Neither I do anymore by choice. But the enemy is not weed in this world. People need to grow up

  16. Trailer Bob says:

    Sure, keep the opiates flowing, but oohhhhhh….marijuana….bad…
    To those of us who grew up in the 60’s and are now in OUR sixties, it is amazingly ignorant to still treat pot as if the old movie “Reefer Madness” was accurate or have any truth to it. We definitely have to vote out the old baggage who has lost, or never caught up to, the world the way it is today. Anyone who thinks pot causes crime via medical patients is not worth listening too. I will certainly not be voting for the nays on this vote. To anyone who HAS smoked pot for the last 50 years, their comments are totally ignorant and there services are no longer needed.

  17. knightwatch says:

    This IS a “quality of life” issue, and the Commission failed its constituents. If those citizens in the more rural areas of Flagler County say they would benefit from a medical marijuana outlet, and some entrepreneur agreed to build it, why not! Opponents would cheer the building of a CVS as economic progress, but not a medical marijuana outlet? Tell me what’s the real difference.

    This is a purely ideological decision by three very conservative members of the Commission. These three voted for their beliefs, not for their constituents. Repay their no vote in November and vote no to them.

  18. Algonquin J. Calhoun says:

    Sadly,those pasty-faced old fools are trying to live in a world that no longer exists. To deny medicine to the sick is not only wrong, but their denial also keeps open the door to the illicit drug trade. There is an epidemic of opioid abuse caused by people in pain who have no access to medical marijuana, and the constipated thought process of these old farts are only adding to the problem. They need to go.

  19. Edith Campins says:

    Let’s vote out these old, white men, who are out of touch with reality. They are voting they own baseless, outdated beliefs not what is best of their constituents.

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