Hillsborough commission votes to cap medical marijuana dispensaries

Reversing their position from just a few months ago, Hillsborough County commissioners voted to place a cap on the number of medical marijuana dispensaries allowed to open within the county.

  • Vote went 6-1
  • 1.5 dispensaries will be allowed for every 67,000 residents
  • City staff will decide who gets license via a points system

Voting at the June 7 meeting went six to 1 in favor of the cap.

“I don’t think it was the voters’ intent to have a pot stand on every corner,” said Commissioner Victor Crist.

Under the new ordinance, only 1.5 dispensaries will be allowed to open for every 67,000 county residents. With Hillsborough’s current population, county officials confirmed that equals 20 dispensaries county-wide.

“With an untested industry … feel very strongly that we take a prudent approach and cautiously open the market,” said Commissioner Ken Hagan.

The lone vote against the cap came from Commissioner Pat Kemp, who expressed concerns over something else written into the ordinance. It specifies that a point system will now decide which businesses get a license. City staff will award points to applicants based heavily on experience.

“We should not … not enact a point system,” said Kemp. “It is a welcome mat for lawsuits.”

Instead, Kemp proposed giving licenses to growers already approved by the state. Without backup, however, her suggestion was left on the table, and the commission moved forward with the ordinance that eventually passed.

Commissioners did note, however, that it’s never too late to change up the numbers.

“I want to remind everyone that if the patient demand is there, we can always amend it and increase it later,” said Hagan.

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