Patients seeking medical marijuana will soon have more places to get it in South Florida.
The Palm Beach County Commission and the Dania Beach Commission agreed this week to allow medical marijuana dispensaries wherever pharmacies are allowed.
“I wish it was around, legalized with a doctor’s prescription, when my mother was dying,” Dania Commissioner Chickie Brandimarte said.
Cities across South Florida will decide in coming months whether to allow dispensaries within their borders.
The Palm Beach County Commission gave initial approval Thursday to lifting its temporary ban on medical marijuana in unincorporated parts of the county. County Commissioner Dave Kerner said he expects the ban to be lifted by September.
“Collectively, the board agrees this is something voters supported, and we don’t want to stand in the way of that,” he said.
About three-fourths of voters in Broward and Palm Beach counties supported Amendment 2, which legalized medical marijuana in Florida for people with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy and other debilitating conditions.
The first South Florida dispensary opened in Redland in Miami-Dade County last year, and a second dispensary opened next to Miami International Airport in April.
Two dispensaries could open as early as August in Lake Worth, where medical pot stores are allowed. Knox Medical plans to open its first South Florida location in a former bank building on Dixie Highway across the street from Lake Worth City Hall, company spokesman Adam Sharon said.
State legislators gave communities two options. They could either ban dispensaries outright or allow them with rules no more restrictive than they impose on corner drug stores.
Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Delray Beach, Deerfield Beach and West Palm Beach have moratoriums in place. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea will vote on a ban on Aug. 13.
Hollywood commissioners voted to allow dispensaries in February, but put several regulations in place for the businesses, including hours of operation. City spokeswoman Raelin Storey said the legal department is reviewing the regulations to see if they coincide with the new state laws. If not, she said the commission will likely make a new decision at its next meeting on Aug. 30.
Patients must follow state guidelines to use medical pot. They must get a recommendation from a doctor and apply for a state identification card from the Health Department. Then they can pick up their medical pot from a dispensary or through a delivery service.
Marijuana can be taken through vaping, edibles or oils, but the Legislature banned smoking the drug.
One criticism raised by a resident at the Dania Beach meeting was that dispensaries operate on a cash-only basis, which could make them a target for thieves.
Banks aren’t allowed to accept money from marijuana businesses because they’re still illegal at the federal level, so businesses can only accept cash, rather than credit card or insurance payments.