Florida House advances more restrictive dispensary, vape shop proximity rules

The rules also affect vape shops and businesses that allow on-premises consumption of alcohol.

With hopes high for an adult-use vote this fall, the Florida Legislature advanced a bill to limit where new dispensaries can set up shop.

House Bill 1053, which unanimously cleared committee on Thursday, proposes to increase the minimum distance required between cannabis cultivation, processing, and dispensary centers from the existing 500 feet to 1,500 feet, while also extending the buffer zone from K-12 schools to daycare centers, churches, and post-secondary educational institutions.

Sources in the state told Green Market Report that the implications of such a modification are far-reaching, as it imposes far stricter zoning regulations than those currently in place. The rules could derail plans for numerous applicants set to launch operations in the state this July.

More specifically, the expansion of proximity rules would severely impact site selection for new applicants and even newer license holders who are in the process of expanding their retail presence, especially in densely populated areas.

“It’s going to be hard pressed, especially in populated areas, to find locations,” said Matthew Ginder, a partner in the cannabis law practice group at Greenspoon Marder.

According to Sally Peebles, a Jacksonville-based attorney with Vicente, the bill would particularly affect the slew of new licensees looking to open shop this July.

“It’s pretty draconian,” she said. “And it slips in religious institutions. It’s doing what we saw in many of the early states.”

Other new markets, such as Mississippi, have been affected by similar rules that limit real estate prospects.

Peebles pointed out the particular challenges posed by the inclusion of postsecondary institutions in the proximity rules. The definition of postsecondary can be broad and has been a source of complications for operators in Colorado, though she admitted that Florida doesn’t have the same issues where “everyone kind of wanted to pump the brakes a little bit.”

Peebles said that even facilities hosting infrequent “once-a-month” IT classes could fall under this category.

“Considering the fact that college students are adults and have medical marijuana cards accordingly, I don’t really see the issue, particularly for colleges,” Daniel Sparks, founder of Florida-based Sparks Consulting, said. “There’s colleges all over the state, so that would amount to more restrictions.”

The bill would also strip local authorities of the power to grant variances, which has traditionally allowed some flexibility in dispensary zoning.

For the bill to become law, it not only has to get through the House, but also needs a similar bill to pass in the Senate, which does not currently exist. That makes some think the measure might not survive.

Adam Jackson

Adam Jackson writes about the cannabis industry for the Green Market Report. He previously covered the Missouri Statehouse for the Columbia Missourian and has written for the Missouri Independent. He most recently covered retail, restaurants and other consumer companies for Bloomberg Business News. You can find him on Twitter at @adam_sjackson and email him at adam.jackson@crain.com.


7 comments

  • Karen E Drinnen-Titshaw

    January 29, 2024 at 5:56 pm

    Just another way for fl and desantis taking rights away. This is stupid and a waste of time and tax payers money on all levels. And I don’t smoke the s***.

    Reply

    • Zakk Mylde

      January 29, 2024 at 6:28 pm

      You’re funny…you have long 4-12 years ahead of you (schadenfreude at its best) and I DO smoke the… DT all day 2024, and beyond. Yaayuh.

      Reply

    • Joseph DiGiro

      February 1, 2024 at 7:48 am

      He doesn’t take rights ! Florida is best state in country ! Durning pandemic keep us open and more freedom than all others!! Wake up lady !! You better turn off your Cnn!!!

      Reply

  • The Chef

    January 29, 2024 at 8:12 pm

    If this apply for the new locations and businesses that apply for the license. If that will be the from west to east colonial route 50 its one of this locations in every corner . And every mile . It’s absolutely absurd. When we have to deal with many people leaving on street because the abuse system to make this a epidemic to usage of the cannabis. When PRIMARY wS for medical purpose only and now it’s everyone qho want it. What future for our Kids . MR. RON !

    Reply

  • Ray Satterfield

    January 29, 2024 at 10:17 pm

    I am a disabled retired person and Cannabis has been a very successful part of my health care. I have a card.

    I supported cannabis from my teens and have always felt that cannabis should be decriminalized. As a consumer today, I am not convinced that cannabis should be available without medical approval, which seems fairly liberal now. This involves a Dr.,, pharmacist, or other health professional to help manage any patient health concerns.

    This also provides for the very much needed clinical analysis of cannabis consumption.

    I also feel that though I don’t attend church and do have grandkids in school,,
    I don’t find “Huffy Puffy Magic dragging smoke and , toke shop being around the school or near church where a specific class of people attend religious activities, typically as families and I don’t think that is where ANY strip mall catering to the bubbler crowd belongs.

    Reply

  • Cari Skiles

    January 30, 2024 at 5:20 am

    This is how I see it:
    #1- Sure, government ok’s medical/recreational marijuana as long as you qualify per doctor’s recommendation and obtain card (which you have to pay to renew annually)
    2- local laws, zoning, politics, whatever makes/could make it impossible for a grower, processor, DISPENSARY to establish a place of business
    HMMMMM????
    3- Marijuana…. AKA Cannabis ( fun fact: less negative word) is a weed, a plant. Cannabis is not manufactured or man made. It is not created by drug formulations in a lab. God gave us this plant to cure and/or alieve ourselves
    4- children need to be educated on so many levels. Don’t shield them from drugs and their effects on body and life. Talk to them, be aware of the shit being sold on the street, next door, in town. This shit that’s killing our kids, fentanyl, heroin that’s where the issues should be directed towards.
    I understand restrictions and zoning. I agree with schools distances (K-12) and places of worship. Any other, not so much.
    All I’m saying, too many restrictions with zoning there will be few and far between available cannabis. Prices will soar (basic supply/demands=economics),

    Educate yourself and your children.
    Marijuana has NEVER caused anyone to OVERDOSE and die

    Reply

  • Tired of being ignored

    February 1, 2024 at 1:48 am

    Government took away the right to pain medication that works and people are forced to live with no quality of life. Yet the hard stuff
    Fentanyl is still flooding America and people are still dying so what good was done?
    My 17 year old son has seizures. Medication from the doctors caused him to want to commit suicide now he has found that this works and he has not been having seizures as long as he uses it. I have to pay hard earn money for doctors and license, and the cost of the medication and now they’re going to make it even harder, What are you thinking? People need quality of life. Animals have it better!

    Reply

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