OKEECHOBEE- Okeechobee City Council members approved the first reading of an ordinance that would stop any new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening within city limits.
The item will be on the agenda at the Okeechobee City Council's Dec. 5 meeting, where the public will have the opportunity to comment on the ordinance before council members vote on whether to approve it.
Florida voters approved legalizing medical marijuana in 2016, with 71 percent of voters voting yes on Florida Amendment 2. The amendment was approved by 66.4 percent of voters in Okeechobee County, with 33.6 percent voting no.
A similar ban on new medical marijuana dispensaries was passed in West Palm Beach in July 2023. In West Palm, eight dispensaries were grandfathered in and allowed to stay open. But, once again, when they move or shutdown, they too would be banned.
Florida voters could have the chance to approve marijuana for recreational use in the state in the upcoming 2024 election. A marijuana legalization initiative sponsored by Smart and Safe Florida has already collected over one million signatures, more than enough to qualify for a ballot next year.
The initiative would allow adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to three ounces of cannabis for personal use. The cap for marijuana concentrates would be five grams. Twenty-four other states have already legalized marijuana for recreational use.
The decision to allow the recreational marijuana initiative is being heard by the Florida Supreme Court this month. Attorney General Ashley Moody is suing in an attempt to keep the issue off the ballot in 2024.
“Fellow Florida voters and supporters: The Florida Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments for Nov. 8, on AG Moody’s lawsuit to try to prevent you from voting on adult use of cannabis,” said Smart and Safe Florida in a statement through social media. “We anticipate that the court will stick to its deferential standard of review and will agree that the language strictly adheres to the law and the Florida constitution and will give the voters the opportunity to vote on this subject.”
The Okeechobee City Council will meet on Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Okeechobee City Hall.