South Florida Police, School Officials Discuss Medical Marijuana Concerns

Florida's medical marijuana amendment passed with huge margins in November but how lawmakers will implement it is sparking concern, especially among South Florida law enforcement and school officials.

A large crowd attended Tuesday's Department of Health public forum on medical marijuana in Fort Lauderdale, where some gave emotional anecdotes on how best to write the laws.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho took the floor to ask for a 3-tier plan that respects students and teachers.

"A safe distance between dispensaries and schools, no fewer than 2,500 feet," he said.

One of Carvalho's board members, Martin Karp, spent time with school administrators in Colorado, where kids have medical marijuana at school, just like any other medication.

"It became very difficult to be able to manage this when kids bring it to school and it's in their lunch box and it looks like candy, how do you really know?" Karp said.

Carvalho and crew argued that prohibition of candy or soda-like packaging that appeals to kids is a must.

Meanwhile, Miami Beach's top cop, Chief Daniel Oates, spoke on behalf of Florida's Chiefs of Police Association. He said the state can come up with its own regulations but it's imperative municipalities have control.

"Elected officials feel very strongly that should be decided by them. The local zoning rules, hours of operation, signage placement within the city," Chief Oates said.

Chief Oates was in Colorado for nine years as medical cannabis was made legal. In his experience, implementation went up in smoke, mostly because of a lack of accountability.

"Ten doctors in the state signed the vast majority of the certifications. It was the equivalent of the pill mill crisis we had here several years ago," he said.

The room in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday was half full of investors putting in their "marijuana moments" relative to dispensary licenses. The other half was full of patient advocates, like Seth Hyman, whose daughter is medically complex.

Hyman told the Department of Health that limiting the number of farms and cultivators to just seven, as it is now, would be dangerous.

"There are literally thousands of different options, thousands of different types of medical cannabis and unfortunately when you're dealing with a limited number of growers, you're limited to the availability of particular types of medicine," he said.

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