MILTON — The city of Milton will decide whether to allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

At the July 20 Committee of the Whole meeting, Randy Jorgenson, Milton’s planning director, informed the council that they must make a decision about the presence of dispensaries in the city and their possible impact.

“The state preempted your authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries to a great degree with the exception that you can regulate them no differently than you do pharmacies,” Jorgenson said. 

According to Jorgenson, there are provisions within a city ordinance that call for the separation of pharmacies and pain clinics, and other activities defined under Florida statute as a pharmacy.

“One of the provisions in the law that has been passed would indicate that a community that chooses to cite dispensaries cannot limit the number found within their borders,” Jorgenson said. “My feeling on medical marijuana is that for those people who are in need, it’s not unlike any other drug that can be administered properly for their benefit.

“You should also know that I am of the opinion that in three to five years, you will be looking at possibly the recreational use of marijuana and I would encourage you to indicate if you’re willing to allow dispensaries ... that you maybe consider expressing that is not necessarily how you feel about the recreational use, but that’s obviously something you can take up.”

According to Jorgenson, the medical marijuana bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott is exacting in the security measures that a dispensary must have in place.

“In fact, they are elaborate and are more demanding than what our standards would have been,” Jorgenson said. “They’ve addressed a lot of the issues we believe have surrounded dispensaries and they’ve set standards for anyone involved in the industry and I believe appropriately.”

Councilwoman Mary Ellen Johnson said that she has no problem with allowing medical marijuana dispensaries as long as they follow the regulations.

“We should be proactive and go with the ordinance we have to make sure that we follow the guidelines,” Johnson said. “I have no problem if we go by our ordinance… — it’s a medicine, you know — as long as we follow the strict rules and regulations… that we’ve already set.”

Many Milton residents also agree that the city should allow medical marijuana dispensaries.

“My husband has Parkinson's and dementia and it would help him out a lot,” Tanza Smith said.

Lisa McLean Reisen said that she is absolutely for it.

“I can't imagine being someone that suffers [from] seizures or other debilitating illnesses every day and not being allowed to take advantage of this medical marijuana,” Reisen said.

Sara Martin said that a lot of her friends and family members would have had a better quality of life if medical marijuana had been an option.