ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – In a stunning victory for medical cannabis patients and Florida voters, the Board of County Commissioners in Orange County voted unanimously this evening to allow medical cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas, overruling the recommendation of their local Planning and Zoning Commission.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) joined forces with Central Florida NORML and Floridians for Cannabis to turn out patients and constituents who told their stories and expressed their opposition to a proposed dispensary ban at a set of public hearings on the issue. After hearing emotional public testimony on how a dispensary ban would make it harder and more costly for qualified patients to access their constitutional right to medical cannabis, the Board ultimately sided with constituents.
Rep. Smith offered the following statement:
“This is a major victory for cannabis patients in Orange County. As cities and counties across Florida are moving to ban dispensaries in their area, it’s good to see that our local efforts to mobilize cannabis patients and advocates actually made a difference. The public spoke out, and Orange County officials listened. That’s how democracy should work. I want to thank all six commissioners who took the time to meet with me individually to discuss this important issue, as well as Mayor Jacobs for approaching this difficult vote with an open mind. Orange Commissioners respected the will of the voters by allowing dispensaries and should be applauded for doing right by their constituents.”
“We still have a lot of work to do in Tallahassee to fix the botched implementation of our medical cannabis law. The ability of patients to access this hard-fought constitutional right has become unnecessarily difficult for too many. Since the implementing law Senate Bill 8-A took effect, there continues to be a shortage of recommending doctors, patients experience months-long wait periods for ID cards, working patients lack important employee workplace protections, and dispensary bans enacted by local governments have blocked patients with serious mobility issues from accessing their medicine….and that’s to mention nothing about the unconstitutional ban on smoking cannabis. I am committed to working with Republicans and Democrats next session to fix what Tallahassee broke. The 71% of Florida voters who supported Amendment 2 expect us to do no less.”