By Steve Plunkett
The possibility of medical marijuana dispensaries opening in Boca Raton inched toward becoming reality at the City Council’s Feb. 25 workshop.
Council members unanimously told city staff to begin drafting regulations to allow such retail shops.
Council member Monica Mayotte noted that 70 percent of city residents voted for the constitutional amendment that permits medical marijuana treatments in Florida.
“We were elected to further what our residents want, and they want these dispensaries in our city for the ease of use,” Mayotte said.
Senior planner Tamashbeen Rahman said Florida Department of Health figures show 101 dispensing facilities statewide. Nearest to Boca Raton are two dispensaries in unincorporated areas near Palm Beach International Airport and west of U.S. 441 west of Lake Worth, one in West Palm Beach on Okeechobee Boulevard, two in Lake Worth, one in Boynton Beach and four in Deerfield Beach.
Nick Hansen, a representative of Los Angeles-based MedMen Enterprises, said medical marijuana dispensaries are tightly regulated by the state and are vastly different from what the public might imagine.
“We can’t have marijuana leaves all over our walls. This is not a head shop,” Hansen said.
Dr. Dominik Chrzan said he prescribes medical marijuana to 600 patients in his practice west of the city.
“Here in Boca I think that we would benefit from having some dispensaries because it does help legitimize everything — they have a center to go to for education, for medication,” Chrzan said.
Boca Raton first had a moratorium on opening marijuana dispensaries, then passed an ordinance prohibiting them in October 2017. But council members at the time asked for continuing updates on the issue. The February workshop was an outgrowth of their October 2018 update.
Mayor Scott Singer was content that Boca Raton had waited to begin implementing rules so it could learn from problems that other cities have faced.
“It’s not that medical marijuana is a bad or good thing,” Singer said. “If we were to introduce any new thing and say you can open up an unlimited number of them, I think that would create some challenges for the way we traditionally zone.”