Ohio has legalized medical marijuana, but dispensaries still face hurdles in opening in the state. And, Ohio is not unique in facing these types of problems. Almost two years have passed since Florida legalized medical marijuana, with over 70 percent of voters approving the measure. Thus far, 64 medical marijuana dispensaries opened in the state. However, some cities in Florida that temporarily stopped dispensaries from being opened in their communities are now making those bans permanent.
State rules were adopted last year giving cities two choices: either issue an outright ban of medical marijuana dispensaries or regulate them the same way they regulate pharmacies. Regulating dispensaries the same way they regulate pharmacies means that dispensaries must be allowed to operate in all commercial districts, although they cannot be within a certain distance of schools. So, some cities chose the outright ban.
One political consultant believes this subverts the will of the people. However, since marijuana is still illegal under federal law -- even for medicinal purposes -- it must be run as a cash-only business. Some cities say this will draw in crime. Some cities also state that those in need of medical marijuana can get it delivered from other cities. Thus, they have banned dispensaries from opening in their limits.
Legislation is in the works that would give cities more options with regards to allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in their communities by broadening the legality of medical marijuana in the state. However, this serves as a good example of the legal hurdles dispensaries face in states that have legalized medical marijuana. Time will tell whether these bans will eventually become moot in Florida, but until then, those wishing to open a medical marijuana dispensary should make sure they understand the laws and regulations they must follow before doing so.