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Fort Walton Beach to Allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

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On March 28, the Fort Walton Beach City Council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that will make medical marijuana dispensaries a permitted use in certain zoning districts of the city.


Ordinance 1972 amends the City’s Land Development Code to allow and set standards for medical marijuana dispensaries in commercial and mixed-use zoning districts. Among the standards listed are a minimum distance requirement from school buildings and a limit of one licensed dispensary for every 10,000 residents.


“Medical marijuana was supported by the majority of Florida voters, and it’s coming,” says City Manager Michael Beedie. “We want to send the message that we’ve done the research and that we want to be at the table as the state moves forward with legislation. We will be the only city in Okaloosa County that hasn’t done a moratorium.”


The ordinance was developed and passed in response to Amendment 2 to the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014, which over 71% of voters favored in the November 2016 election. Amendment 2 broadens the allowable use of medical marijuana for debilitating conditions.


When asked if the new ordinance opens the door to discussions of recreational use, the City Manager clarified that there is no provision for recreational use within the ordinance and that the current focus is solely on the research and implementation for medical needs.


“Right now, we’re only addressing medical use,” says Beedie. “We’re not even going to talk about recreational use until it gets brought up on a ballot.”

– Joanna Soria
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