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Cape Coral to allow medical marijuana dispensaries

Posted at 11:20 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 23:26:00-04

Cape Coral city officials announced Thursday they will allow medicinal marijuana dispensers to operate, becoming the largest city in Southwest Florida to do so.

"The more options the merrier, absolutely.  The competition is pretty fierce with the dispensaries right now, the dispensaries are running out of product quite often," said Nick Garulay, of My Florida Green.  

His organization connects patients with doctors who specialize in marijuana treatment.
Most patients turn to medicinal marijuana after other mainstream treatments don't work.

"Our average patient age is around 62," said Garulay.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2016 legalizing medicinal marijuana, but a provision in the law allows cities and counties to opt out.

It's too early to determine how many dispensaries will open in Cape Coral.  A handful already opened in unincorporated Lee County.

Critics of dispensaries pointed to a section of the law which allows them to follow the same zoning rules as pharmacies, and they worry too many dispensaries could open up.

"It's not going to be in a dispensary's best interest to open up on each corner, and they are limited to 25 per grow license," said Garulay.

Dispensaries are banned from opening up within 500 feet of a private of public K-through-12 school.  Guarulay says security is tight, only patients with marijuana cards are allowed to enter.

"It's packaged very professionally, It's child proof, it has child proof packaging."

The City of Ft. Myers, and Village of Estero recently passed bans on marijuana dispensaries, although Fort Myers has one, which opened before the ban was passed.