In just a few weeks, we'll hit the one year mark since medical marijuana became legal in Florida. That's after more than 70 percent of the state voted yes on Amendment 2 last year.
Since then, there have been a series of hurdles and legal challenges when it comes to selling, buying, and using legal medical marijuana. One of those is playing out in Temple Terrace, where people are fighting back against a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.
In a 9-to-1 vote Tuesday, Temple Terrace city leaders banned medical cannabis shops from opening within city limits.
This came after many people pleaded their case on both sides. Some like Ellen Snelling are against medical marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood.
“I have had devastating effects on my family and it started with marijuana,” she said.
Others against dispensaries took to the podium voicing their concerns with the substance itself. One person saying, “Say no to drugs.” Another saying, “Marijuana is a gateway drug.”
Gary Stein, author of a book about medical cannabis called "The Great Green Hope," told city counci lmembers, “This whole thing is not about getting high. It’s about getting well.”
Gerald Iwerks says three drops of cannabis oil per day is the only thing that helps his shaking.
“I shake and shuffle my feet much less," he said. "It’s had a positive impact on me. It takes away the symptoms. It's giving me back a life.”
Patricia Freitag agrees. “I’m baking again, sewing again, I’m seeing people. I’m getting on planes, which I haven’t done in 10 years.”
Those against dispensaries are concerned crime will increase in those areas because it’s a cash business. Others question a need for a dispensary in their neighborhood when prescriptions can be delivered. The closest dispensary to Temple Terrace is less than four miles away.
In June, Florida state legislators limited cities ability to zone dispensaries, leaving them with two options; to ban them altogether or to prevent dispensaries from being within 500 feet of a school. Cities choosing to allow dispensaries can’t regulate how many open in a neighborhood.
“I don’t like the state telling us what to do. I don’t like our city being pre-empted by state law,” Snelling said.
Cheri Donohue is the only city councilwoman who voted against the ban.
“Here in Temple Terrace, 78 percent of our citizens voted yes for medical cannabis," she said. "It’s a strong message. I should be listening to my constituents.”
Donohue also said she personally knows people who’ve only found relief through medical cannabis
For now, Temple Terrace residents will have to continue going to dispensaries to get the medicine they need. There’s no timeline for when city leaders will take this issue up again.