Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs described a medical marijuana decision forced on them by the Legislature as feeling like “a gun to our head” as she and county commissioners heard emotional testimony Tuesday from more than two dozen patients and advocates.
The County Commission held the first of two hearings on whether to ban or allow medical marijuana dispensaries on Tuesday, after postponing any decision for months by extending a temporary moratorium on them. Meanwhile, municipalities such as Winter Garden and Winter Park have banned dispensaries because of rules imposed by the state.
In the public session, Carol Green of Winter Park said she had PTSD and insomnia after 18 years as an Orange County Sheriff’s Office 911 operator, “and all I want to do is let Orange County give a little something back to me. … All I want to do is sleep.”
Tricia Dennis of Orlando, a single mother of a young boy, said medical marijuana “is what’s keeping my son alive. I don’t want to leave this community, and I love this community.”
“You say you have a gun to your head, Mayor Jacobs?” Dennis said. “[Imagine] that’s your child.”
While a constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2016, the law passed this year by the Legislature requires cities and counties to regulate dispensaries exactly as they would pharmacies.
Among Central Florida cities, only Oviedo is moving forward with an ordinance allowing dispensaries. Orlando has declared its two dispensaries on North Orange Avenue to have been grandfathered in, a strategy county attorney Whitney Evers called “a somewhat risky position to take.”
Speaking before the commission, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, described the Legislature’s rules as a “trap to share the blame with local governments. It muddies the water further and