CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – Attorney and marijuana advocate Norm Kent has a message for South Florida cities after the passage of Amendment 2, legalizing medicinal marijuana in the state.
"City commissions and law enforcement have to understand this is a medicine and not a menace," Kent told Local 10 News.
Kent, who is vice president for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, warns that six-month moratoriums on dispensaries that have recently been passed by several cities, including Coral Springs, Hallandale Beach, Deerfield Beach and Pompano Beach, could soon be unlawful when Amendment 2 is enacted by the state Jan. 3.
"These moratoriums will be fundamentally unconstitutional deprivations of my individual right to access medical marijuana," Kent said. "It's that simple."
Coral Springs Mayor Skip Campbell said the city's moratorium is not an attack on medicinal marijuana. He said the purpose of the moratorium he passed last week was simply to come up with sensible zoning laws before the marijuana shops come to his city.
"We want to make sure that if a shop opens in Coral Springs, it's appropriate -- it's not near a school, it's not near a church, it's not where it shouldn't be," Campbell said.
Campbell said the state Legislature has six months to issue its own regulations before dispensaries will be allowed to open, but Kent said the state could act much sooner, putting those cities in the wrong.
"They ought to act swiftly, immediately hire counsel to study what regulations other cities have enacted, not only in Florida, but in the 20 states that have already decriminalized marijuana," Kent said.
Campbell admits he's not sure what the city will do if the state beats his city to the punch, but he said he won't stand in the way of Amendment 2.
"I'm not against it," Campbell said. "I voted for medicinal marijuana because I think it's the right thing to do."
Still, Campbell said he hopes it doesn't "turn into a situation where it proliferates so that it's at every corner."