ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. -- St. Lucie County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a new ordinance that would set some rules for medical marijuana dispensaries in the county.
The rules limit how many dispensaries can open, and where they can open.
The dispensaries will have to be no less than 1,000 feet from any schools, licensed daycare centers, religious institutions, parks or liquor stores.
There can only be eight dispensaries in the unincorporated county in commercial-general zoning areas.
There can only be on dispensary per every 5 miles. That is a change from an original proposal of just one mile between dispensaries.
“This is a start,” said Commissioner Chris Dzedovsky.
The county is still waiting on more rules that could be handed down from the state level. They will also be waiting to see if the city commissioners make any of their own ordinances.
The rules voted on Tuesday were created with help and guidance from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office.
Captain Douglas Hardie says the sheriff’s office wants to be sure the rules surrounding the dispensaries are created with public safety in mind.
“I think it’s important because this is uncharted territory,” Hardie said.
He has traveled the state to learn about the dispensaries and the law. He has also taken notes from other states currently operating dispensaries.
For now, he thinks the new rules will help carefully control the dispensaries when they open, while also allowing them to be successful financially, and in helping people who need the medical marijuana.
“Lets be a little more strict on the front end, and then we can loosen if we need be. We don’t know what our neighboring cities are going to do.”
Commissioners also voted to allow law enforcement and other authorities to conduct random inspections during business hours.
“They can show up at any dispensary and make sure the rules are being followed,” Dzedovsky said.
Hardie says the county is becoming a leader in the state, creating rules bound to be a model for other counties.
The sheriff’s office says deputies are already receiving calls from other counties for advice.
“We want to be the one to set the policy that everyone else follows. I think we’re getting really close to that as of now.”