• Orange County Commission unanimously approves medical marijuana dispensaries

    By: Ken Tyndall


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - The Orange County Commission voted on Tuesday to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in the county, capping off a monthslong debate on the businesses.

    During a meeting Tuesday night, the decision was made unanimously to allow the dispensaries set up in Orange County.

    Floridians voted overwhelmingly to make medical marijuana legal in the state, but many local governments have been stonewalling efforts to establish dispensaries.

    Read: 9 Investigates Central Florida residents' complaints about medical marijuana card delays

    In June, the state imposed a set of rules for dispensaries that gave local governments two choices: Allow dispensaries to set up shop anywhere pharmacies can open, or ban them altogether.

    Read: Longwood council unanimously approves medical marijuana dispensary regulations

    Because their designation would allow dispensaries to set up anywhere a pharmacy can, a number of municipalities have taken steps to ban them outright.

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    The zoning rules were part of the ongoing debate in Orange County leading up to Tuesday's vote.

    Medical marijuana supporter Derek Ryan was glad the Commission decided to allow dispensaries to open in Orange County.

    "This is about people," he said. "This is about sick people who need access to legal medicine."

    Tricia Dennis showed up for Tuesday's meeting to show her support for medical marijuana dispensaries.

    Her 17-year-old son Noah had a stroke before he was born, but medical marijuana has made a big difference in his life.

    "He improved," Dennis said. "He started gaining weight. He stopped having all the seizures and he just started becoming a kid again."

    Cities like Oviedo, Deltona and Longwood, and Flagler County have welcomed dispensaries, with some restrictions.

    While one commissioner raised questions about dispensaries along the tourism corridor possibly hurting the county's family-friendly image, no one spoke against the dispensaries and the Commission voted to allow them.

    "You can show up at this hearing, you can stand up and speak and you can change the course of history," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said. "And that's what we saw happen here."


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