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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Here are the places medical marijuana businesses can open in Hillsborough County. There aren't many.



TAMPA — Hillsborough County approved a slew of new rules Tuesday for where medical marijuana dispensaries can operate.

One rule that didn’t make the cut was a limit on the number of dispensaries that can operate in county limits. A draft of the ordinance restricted medical marijuana licenses to one for every 67,222 residents, or 13 (actually, 11 if you count the two already in existence). Commissioners narrowly voted to eliminate that.

But don't expect a marijuana business to open on every street corner just because there isn’t a limit on how many facilities can exist.

For starters, these rules only apply to unincorporated Hillsborough, not the three cities within county boundaries. Tampa is working on its own set of regulations and currently has a moratorium in place to prevent any new businesses for now.

Second, Hillsborough’s new ordinance prohibits these dispensaries from opening within 750 feet from a host of places, like schools and bars. The list of establishments with 750-foot buffers include:

  • Churches/synagogues, schools, child care centers, public libraries, community recreational facilities and parks

  • Residentially zoned parcels

  • Establishments that sell beer, wine and liquor for consumption on or off the premises.

That knocks out a big chunk of the county and basically pushes these facilities to the outskirts of population centers. The regulations also say marijuana businesses cannot operate within 750 feet from each other, so there won’t be a Weed District opening in Hillsborough any time soon.

Finally, the dispensaries can only open in certain commercial and manufacturing zones, of which there aren’t many not already disqualified by the aforementioned 750-foot buffer rules. There are small pockets scattered throughout the county but they're mostly concentrated in the unincorporated area immediately north of Tampa International Airport, some parts of South Shore, just east of Orient Road in Tampa and south of Temple Terrace. It's possible some of these businesses won't consider it profitable to set up shop so far from where people live.

It's worth noting, too, that lawmakers in Tallahassee can override all of this if they approve their own land use rules for medical marijuana facilities. State law supercedes county ordinances.

Here’s a map of the approved areas where dispensaries can open. The red and pink areas show where they can open; the rest is off limits.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 9, 2017 11:39am]


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