Election 2017 Question of the week: Medical marijuana
Each week through the General Election, The Breeze will ask the candidates for Cape Coral City Council an issue-related question. In the interest of fairness, each candidate is limited to the same amount of space, about 100 words, for their response. As you review the races, please note that Cape Coral City Council races are non-partisan, citywide elections. This means all registered voters can cast a ballot in each race, no matter party affiliation, no matter the district in which they live.
The 15th Question of the Week is: What is your position on medical marijuana as it relates to policy for dispensaries in Cape Coral? Specifically, which of the two state-allowed routes should the city of Cape Coral take: Ban dispensaries outright or regulate them in a manner that is not more restrictive than applies to licensed pharmacies?
– Joe Coviello: 72% of Florida residents voted in favor of medical marijuana. We need to begin the process to allow those in medical need the opportunity to obtain cannabis. However, it is still illegal under federal law. This conflict between state and federal law makes it difficult to move forward with the implementation of dispensing medical marijuana. Despite these obstacles, we should begin the initial steps to regulate medical marijuana focusing on allowable locations, licensing, and medical professional training. Establishing a solid framework will allow us to act immediately once the discrepancies between state and federal law are rectified.
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– Michael D. Hollow: Most of the people, throughout the state, have agreed to allow medical marijuana. Even as a Retired Law Enforcement Officer, I agree with the allowance of medical marijuana. The legislatures have done a good job in setting the requirements/regulations for the process. If a person/entity is approved for the sale of medical marijuana, they are responsible from seed to sale. Meaning, there is no middle person, or multiple exchanges of product, which is easier for the state to track.
Cape Coral can benefit financially by being the first in the area to allow it. The restrictions should be that of a pharmacy. Marijuana certainly isn’t worse than any scheduled narcotic, but pharmacies sell those. Approval will potentially reduce black market sales.
– John Gunter: As we are all aware, the voters of Lee County overwhelmingly passed this issue with over 70.6% (220,751 to 92,233) in favor of allowing this in our state. Some counties and other municipalities, have either banned this totally, or held their vote off to a later time. I feel we have a responsibility to listen to our voters, even if we agree, or disagree, regarding this issue. I feel with proper regulations, similar to licensed pharmacies, dispensaries could be implemented in our community for medical purposes only. Furthermore, I feel this could be a very good money source for our city, like many other cities nationally. I feel we can collect a tax on this product, and use 100% of the monies collected to be re-invested back into our community. This money could be used for projects to improve the quality of life for our citizens.
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– Graham Madison Morris: Regulate them so they are held to the standards of being a professional medical establishment such as a pharmacy. To ban them outright is to go against the will of the people’s vote since we saw the referendum succeed. Zoning and development regulations are where we can fairly, and safely, fit these into our city in a way that helps those who need it, yet is not injurious to the area or city overall. I have experience in this area and such is the skill-set that is so needed to confront not just this matter, but our biggest challenges in the future which will involve land use and zoning.
– Richard Leon (Incumbent): City staff is currently working on bringing an ordinance forward that will allow dispensaries in City limits. I have and will support this moving forward. The greater benefit is some areas around us have outright banned medical dispensaries and this could help spur another aspect of economic growth in our City.
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– Jennifer I. Nelson: Seventy two percent of our voters passed this legislation and we need to honor the majority vote. I recommend we regulate medical marijuana dispensaries similar to how we regulate pharmacies. We would need to bring all stake holders including residents, law enforcement, city staff, and potential business owners together to formulate a comprehensive implementation plan. This plan needs to carefully address all concerns and develop solutions to any anticipated problems. We should look to other cities that have accomplished this initiative successfully and model our plan closely.
– James Schneider: Cape Coral could do very well by being the city in Lee County with properly regulated medical marijuana dispensaries which have limitations. Other local cities have selected to ban this opportunity. This is what I see, an opportunity. Having medical relatives in Colorado, I have learned of the general benefit to their community of people with the appropriate issues, how the dispensaries are established, regulated, taxed, and how there appears to be a win-win for the community at large, the city, and the patient. We will need to learn more about the regulations and the tax income for the city first, though.
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– Dave Stokes: One of the most important duties of elected officials is to listen to the Voters. In 2016 the Voters of Florida approved Medical Marijuana by an overwhelming majority of 71% of Voters. Having worked as a Firefighter/Paramedic for over 20 years I have seen the harm opioid addiction can cause on patients and families. I believe we need to follow the will of the Voters and allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in a well thought out manner in Cape Coral as this could be a good alternative to other medications that are more harmful and addictive.
– John Karcher: The law has been passed and a local decision must be made. Do we ban it like some cities, or move forward with local regulation that keeps negative issues at bay?
We are still waiting on more direction from the state. Until the City has been provided with complete details, leaders are being cautious.
In my opinion, we should not spend time and money on an exact local plan knowing that the State’s direction maybe different. We must get this 100% correct the first time.
The city officials and our lobbyist should be pressuring the elected state officials for final direction.
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– Rick Williams (Incumbent): I support the legalization of medical marijuana, as did 71.3% of the voters in a recent referendum. Medical marijuana products should be regulated as any other pharmaceutical, and the dispensaries should be treated like any other pharmacy.
I also believe that Cape Coral must put forth a plan to regulate and license dispensaries in the city. The city and industry stakeholders will need to come together to determine the best locations and total number of dispensaries to initiate the program. As time goes on, we can address problems or issues with the program and eventually let market supply and demand determine the quantity and locations of dispensaries.
– GENERAL, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
* Voter Registration Book Closed, Oct. 10
* Early Voting (General Election), Oct. 30-31 and Nov. 1-4
– Lee County Elections Cape Coral Branch Office, 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3
– Cape Coral Library, 921 S.W. 39th Terrace
– Voter registration:
Applications are available online at www.leeelections.com, at all Lee County libraries, and other locations including Cape Coral City Hall at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd., Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce at 2051 Cape Coral Parkway, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and all Lee County Supervisor of Elections offices including the one in the Cape at 1031 S.E. 9th Place Unit 3 A full list is available at www.leeelections.com.