Cannabis company sues Florida city over zoning change

The city of Miami Beach is being sued by a cannabis company that had signed a commercial lease for a medical marijuana dispensary but was thwarted in its efforts to do so.

The city has put into place restrictions that specify how close one dispensary can be to another one. The cannabis company, on the other hand, contends that Florida law prevents local governments from such rules.

The Miami Beach City Commission passed a law in February that requires there to be at least 1,200 feet between dispensaries. There are only four areas in the city where dispensaries will be allowed, and the businesses must be at least 500 feet from a school.

According to the cannabis company, when all the legislation is put together, that means there can be no more than seven dispensaries in Miami Beach. City commissioners have said they have limited the medical marijuana dispensaries because they fear they could start selling recreational pot if it is legalized in the state.

A cannabis company representative said the company respects that local governments can make laws to regulate dispensaries. But when it comes to the situation in Miami Beach, though, the company representative said the rules were changed after the company already had signed a 10-year lease and put $1.2 million into customizing the property for its use.

In fact, the representative said the company applied for a building permit and business license before the commissioners voted on the restrictions. In the end, the building permit was denied because of its proximity – approximately 100 feet – to a competing dispensary.

The cannabis company had submitted its construction plans to the city before the city planning board even considered the zoning restrictions. Its lawsuit asks for the court to block Miami Beach from its actions against the dispensary, contending it will “suffer irreparable harm.”

This will be an interesting case to follow as it progresses through the legal system. An attorney always should review a commercial lease before it is signed and existing zoning should be reviewed to make sure a tenant’s use is conforming to local laws.


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