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BOCACANN happened at Hyatt Place on January 21. BOCACANN was an event which featured a doctors’ panel, a business panel, patients relating their stories, national sponsors and roughly 250 attendees from the community. Its purpose was to raise awareness in time for City Council’s reconsideration of Boca’s ban on MMTCs (medical marijuana treatment centers). It was enormously successful on all fronts.

City Council revisited the ban on medical marijuana dispensaries on February 25, at Workshop. City staff recommended against lifting the prohibition. Present were industry reps and patients, including myself. No council member seemed at all persuaded by staff’s recommendation. The only remaining points of resistance for council are signage (as with all matters Boca) and potential for too many shops. It appears that any “stigma” or “bogeyman” concerns are no longer concerns.

The following were raised as points in favor of enacting an ordinance permitting dispensaries:

  1. Only medical patients, willing to spend a lot of money (which is not paid for by insurance), would buy any marijuana products at dispensaries. The street value of marijuana has dived and only law abiding citizens overpay for legal products.
  2. Legislation which restricts a right granted by ballot referendum must past the strictest of constitutional scrutiny.
  3. A lot of patients are achieving remarkable outcomes. A Massachusetts podiatrist, who was forced to retire due to a condition at age 47, spoke about his journey back with the help of cannabis- after returning to his practice, he is now retired in South Florida, active, with no pharmaceutical medications in his body.
  4. With a ban in place, sick patients who can’t travel must get their medication delivered, which adds cars to Boca’s streets, but adds no value to local businesses.
  5. Dispensaries enhance adjacent and nearby businesses. Proximity shopping means that patientsout for medicine will also shop for whatever else they need during their shopping trip. The money to other stores will either be in Boca or elsewhere, depending on whether Boca patients can access medication in Boca Raton.
  6. Interior build-outs for MMTCs can cost as much as $1-3 million per center.
  7. Many doctors are prescribing cannabis in lieu of opiates, or to assist people who are addicted to wean off of opiates.

In all, it’s clear that Boca’s ban will be lifted with some reasonable restrictions. We have 5 elected officials who present themselves as “voter-friendly”. As I stated to Council in my remarks at Workshop, our nation is so divided, that people can’t agree on the color of the sky-but more than 70% of Florida’s voters, and Boca’s voters, chose to allow patients to have access to medical cannabis. Council will listen to Boca’s overwhelming consensus and lift the ban, allowing for MMTCs. BOCACANN! And Boca will.

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