Medical marijuana zoning plans mulled in Cocoa Beach

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

COCOA BEACH, Fla. - A Florida measure that would allow the use of medical marijuana cleared its final hurdle in January.

Now, if voters approve a state constitutional amendment in November, Florida would be the twenty-first state to allow the use of medical marijuana, and the city of Cocoa Beach plans on being ready if that day comes.

Members of the city's planning board met on Monday to hash out all of the zoning issues that come with regulating marijuana clinics.

According to a drafted ordinance written by the city's attorney, marijuana dispensaries and clinics would be few and far between -- tucked away from the city's main drags and hidden from tourists.

"It's better than not doing anything at all and waiting until something gets passed and then they start selling it out on the street corner," said Bill Schmitt, a tourist visiting from Michigan.

The proposed ordinance would require dispensaries to be 200 feet from the center line of State Road A1A, State Road 520, Ocean Beach Boulevard and Minutemen Causeway -- the city's four most populated roads.

Other site restrictions would be 1,000 feet away from churches or schools and 2,500 feet from any other operating clinics, but some folks who live in the area aren't sure regulating dispensaries is such a good idea for the city.

"They should be able to set up where they want. I don't think they should be restricted on where they can set up," said Matt Holzem, a Cocoa Beach resident.

And with these restrictions on where clinics should be operated, where in the 15,000-square mile city of Cocoa Beach would they be allowed? According to city leaders, only three lots in the entire city meet all of the ordinance's requirements.

The draft ordinance would also regulate where recreational marijuana could be sold in the city. Cocoa Beach Commissioner Skip Williams says they're doing both so they don't have to start this process over if recreational use gets passed sometime in the future.

Nothing will be set in stone at Monday's meeting. It will be the first of many steps the city needs to do before finalizing the ordinance.

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