Jacksonville Beach leaders make moves to completely ban medical marijuana dispensaries in the city

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Jacksonville Beach leaders have taken the first step in permanently banning medical marijuana shops.

For almost a year, the city has had a temporary ban in place. Now, city leaders said they want to keep it in place.

Action News Jax was there a year ago when leaders said they were waiting for guidance from the state.

Now, the state has said the marijuana dispensaries can either be regulated like pharmacies or be banned altogether. Given those two choices, right now it appears Jacksonville Beach leaders are going with the second option to ban.

On Monday night inside City Hall, the council listened to public comment and then discussed the issue.

Several council members argued against the ban, saying they wanted to listen to the voters who voted in favor of making medical marijuana legal.

Others worry about dispensaries popping up on street corners like pharmacies, hurting property values and potentially neighborhood safety.

“My job is to represent the people of Jacksonville Beach and as I mentioned during the council meeting, 81 percent of the people may have voted for medical marijuana. But it wasn’t 81 percent of Jacksonville Beach residents looking to put a dispensary in Jacksonville Beach,” Mayor Charlie Latham said.

“We need to give them a chance to have their family member, their caregiver be able to go just up the street to get that. And we’re not talking about some place that’s large like Walgreens. We’re talking about a small place, a very small location that’s going to provide safe access and secure access for our patients,” attorney and patient advocate Carrie McClain said.

After some confusion and the switching of a vote, the council ended up voting 4-3 to pass the ban on first reading. It will have a second reading in two weeks.