Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Council Puts Brakes on Possible Growing Sites; Clark, Gulliford Defend Move as Prudent, but Challenges Possible

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Council Puts Brakes on Possible Growing Sites; Clark, Gulliford Defend Move as Prudent, but Challenges Possible

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

As Florida begins accepting applications for licenses to grow low-potency marijuana, the Jacksonville City Council has approved a six-month moratorium to block any such businesses from operating in Duval County.

An administrative law judge threw out the last legal challenge to Florida's "Charlotte's Web" law June 1, clearing the way for legalized cultivation of the drug for medicinal purposes for people - mainly children - who suffer from epilepsy and cancer. But the City Council Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance drafted by council member Richard Clark that makes it illegal to have any cultivation business within city limits for the next six months.

"The uncontrolled siting of dispensing organizations would pose serious adverse effects and cause irreparable harm to the public health, safety and welfare of the city of Jacksonville," Clark's measure said.

The moratorium applies to any entity dispensing, processing or cultivating low-THC cannabis.

But state Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, who originally drafted the Charlotte's Web law, said the beginning stages of the marijuana cultivation industry will be tightly regulated.

"There are requirements to the operations. It can't be a fly-by-night operation. These are entities that have been around for a long period of time, have demonstrated financial stability and reputation to handle this in a professional manner," Bradley said.

In fact, it costs over $60,000 just to apply for the license to grow the marijuana. Only five licenses for each of five geographic designations in the state.

Mayor Alvin Brown has until June 23 to sign the City Council ordinance into law or veto it. Repeated messages left Thursday and Friday with the mayor's spokesman David DeCamp seeking clarification on Brown's intentions received no response.

Councilman Bill Gulliford was a co-sponsor of the moratorium and said he understood there to be little oversight of growing operations.

"My understanding was that we were getting to a point where there would be absolutely no control on it," Gulliford said Thursday. "I think this was to buy us time to make sure that we were properly protected . …

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