An unincorporated part of Collier County is discussing whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.
People are dealing with pain and other conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana. For now, they need to drive out of their way to get to a dispensary. For now, dispensaries are not allowed under Collier County’s land development code.
Collier County Commissioners have gone back and forth on the issue. But, they haven’t decided to legalize dispensaries in the county. Collier is conservative and people worry about crime and drugs in their community.
But, a lot of people do want to see medical marijuana stores because there are thousands of patients who need them. Walking into a marijuana dispensary in Bonita Springs is as easy as buying bananas at Publix. Just make sure you have your medical marijuana card.
Nick Garulay is the Founder and CEO of My Florida Green. And even though he doesn’t sell it, Garulay wants to help patients get medical marijuana. So, Garulay gets people medical marijuana cards. And so far, he’s qualified over 30,000 people in the past six years.
“Patients are sleeping better they’re lowering their anxiety they’re weaning off of medications with harmful side effects…” Garulay said. “Patients can usually be in and out of here in 15 to 20 minutes and they can leave and go right to the dispensary.”
Garulay mentioned that not having dispensaries legal in Collier County is unfair to some patients. “Especially if they’re debilitated it’s very disheartening to watch a patient with a wheelchair load their wheelchair into their car and then have to do it again you know 15 minutes down the road,” Garulay expressed.
Cole Peacock founded the Caloosahatchee Cannabis Company. “The county commission I know is always reviewing this and continue to go back and forth into it but you know the patients and the customers in Collier they’re all driving to Lee to get to get what they need,” Peacock said. Because dispensaries aren’t legal in Collier County, for now, Peacock’s sees a lot of patients from Collier County.
“I think you’ll see once it’s approved,” Peacock said. “Whenever that may be I think you’ll see the floodgates open.” While it isn’t guaranteed, Collier Commissioners voted in May to open the discussion on allowing dispensaries.
“I would like to see them be allowed within our community,” Commissioner for Collier County, Bill McDaniel said. “I think there’s way more good that comes from it than not necessarily.”
Meanwhile, other commissioners are keeping their cards close to their chest. Collier County Commissioner Rick LoCastro explained, “I’m not opposed to opening up the dialogue on anything might mean I adamantly vote against it in the very end.”
“I’m not opposing this,” Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor said. “It needs to be heard. It needs to be vetted.”
Commissioners won’t debate the issue until October. Even then, the issue has got to make it through a series of committees.