While Miami has not issued permits for medical marijuana dispensaries in the city for four years, the city commissioners have made it possible for the first to open.
Thursday’s vote of 3-2 by the commissioners to approve a certificate for the first medical marijuana dispensary within Miami, six years after Floridians legalized cannabis for medical purposes was approved.
There are currently over 425 dispensaries across Florida, but none located in Miami.
Sunnyside Dispensaries owner Jason Erkes has many locations, but none in Miami.
“This is a really big move for the patients that need to get their medicine and it’s a big move for the cannabis industry,”Erkes stated. “It’s been debated for a long time, but I think at the end of the day they’re gonna see there’s no negative societal impact.”
The commission had previously resisted the granting of a certificate for dispensary use. Commissioner Manolo Remez voted against allowing a Los Angeles-based business to open a business in Miami.
“Because I want to establish the regulations before they are authorized to be selling this marijuana, which is being called medical marijuana, and make a clear distinction between medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Reyes said.
Supporters of dispensaries claim that the state has a good handle on rules, regulations, and a multi-step process for vetging businesses.
“It’s a very tightly regulated industry so before you can apply for a license to open a store in a city like Miami you have to be licensed by the state,”Erkes stated.
Thursday’s vote gave MRC-44 a certificate to open a downtown Miami location. The city has been in litigation with MRC-444 for years. The court eventually ruled that Miami hadn’t explicitly banned dispensaries and had to allow the company operate.
Commissioner Ken Russell voted for the measure. He stated that dispensaries would be treated as pharmacies.
“I have my medical marijuana card. After two surgeries on my wrist I was prescribed opioids and I recognize the symptoms of withdrawal that are created into addiction that allow people to get hooked on meth,”Russell said. “This is a really slippery slope that very normal people get caught up in and having alternative forms of pain medication is crucial.”