Estero Planning Board holds off on dispensary ban

Posted at 11:17 PM, Oct 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 07:43:43-04

The Village of Estero planning board recommended against a ban on marijuana dispensaries after an impassioned plea from a medicinal marijuana supporter.

"Marijuana is a plant that grows out of the ground that has killed no one ever in history," said Nick Garulay, who runs Project Green, a company that helps patients get access to medical marijuana.

A ballot referendum legalizing marijuana for medical purposes passed last year, but Estero was poised to join a growing list of Southwest Florida communities that are banning dispensaries.

Garulay is glad Estero reconsidered.

"I'm really humbled and honored that they listened to my testimony, and I really think they opened their eyes and mind a little bit."

He says the need for medical marijuana has increased along with the number of people who are addicted to pain killers.  

"I know a gentleman who has been suffering from cancer of the pancreas for about 4 and a half years, and the only thing that helps him is medical marijuana," said Estero Board Member Marline Naratil.

Still, some residents worry if one medical marijuana dispensary pops up in this small village, others will follow.

"There is a lot of tax money involved, so it may be a trade off but I definitely wouldn't want that here where I live," said resident Dianne Rowe.

The city council could ignore the planning commission's reccommendation and proceed with the ordinance.