In the Zone

With a name like Green Cove Springs, it seemed just a matter of time before medical marijuana was officially a thing there. Cheap puns aside, the process of approval has dragged on for much longer than usual, but it finally came to an end on May 15, when its city council voted 4-1 in favor of Ordinance O-03-2018, which will add medical marijuana dispensaries into the city’s zoning code.

Green Cove Springs is the county seat of Clay County, which voted for Amendment 2 by a margin that was roughly 71 percent-29 percent. Its municipalities have been slowly implementing the Amendment 2 protocols over the past year, with Orange Park leading the way. With a population just below 8,000 people, Green Cove is one of the county’s smaller territories, and has thus fallen mostly under the radar of those within the pro-pot activist community.

According to a press release issued by the city, “The ordinance includes adding medical marijuana to the definition of ‘drug and drug sales’ in the city code, conditions for treatment centers and zoning districts where treatment centers are permitted. Medical marijuana treatment centers will be allowed under special exception in Residential, Professional, Office (RPO) and Neighborhood Commercial (C-1), and allowed in General Commercial (C-2). Conditions include allowing signs mounted on the outside of the building or hanging in the window as advertisement, no delivery or sales between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and cannot be located within 500 feet of a school.”

These changes will be welcomed by citizens around the city, not least among them 45-year-old John Inman and his 20-year-old daughter Shae, two medical marijuana patients who were busted for possession a couple months ago. He told First Coast News’ Ken Amaro that he chose to get his supply through the black market because he didn’t like the chemicals used to process the raw herb into the various products that are legal to purchase, which he claims made him sick. But that argument just doesn’t fly, although the Joe Redner “juicing” case could be cited by his defense.

Patients like the Inmans, who were driven to buy from the streets due to a lack of legal options, will be well-served by the arrival of dispensaries in their city, but it’s unclear how long it will be until the shops are open. If the Orange Park experience is any indication, there are probably at least a couple of the usual suspects already queued up to take advantage of the new zoning regulations, so one should expect to see the first storefronts in a matter of weeks.