Local leaders are getting closer to prescribing a plan to medical marijuana in Bay County and one local businessman is eyeing the future of the business.
“Oh yeah, all the time,” said Dustin Croft, laughing. He is the manager of Carun Pharmacy in Panama City Beach, and that’s how frequently he said he gets asked if they sell pot.
“But we don’t know yet,” and that’s how Patrik Bortl, owner of Carun Pharmacy, responds when asked whether he’ll eventually sell medical marijuana.
For the past six months, they say business has been good for their totally legal hemp products. But people have been asking about a future in medical marijuana.
Bortl said, for now, they’re only focused on the health benefits of their products and the CBD oil, which he believes are better than medical marijuana products containing THC. But, he said a future in medical marijuana is possible.
“If the city wants us to do that for them to help the county, we might be open minded for this,” he said. “A lot of people have come here to ask us about it.”
But he and others would still have a long way to go. Bay County Commissioners approved an ordinance Tuesday for the unincorporated parts of the county. The laws create restrictions for the placement of dispensaries, distancing them from churches and schools. Among other things, the law also prohibits the sale of alcohol in a dispensary and prevents people from consuming cannabis while inside the store.
But Lynn Haven, Panama City, and Panama City Beach are still under their own moratoriums permitted by the state legislature. Panama City and Panama City Beach Council members are expected to draft plans in the month ahead.
“It’s not where you can walk in and buy you a joint,” said Panama City Beach Mayor Mike Thomas.
He said he’d like to see the city’s laws mirror the county’s
“It’s the law. I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re doing what the law says.”
He said he thinks the beach only needs one dispensary and would like to create restrictions on the number of dispensaries that could be established. He said he’d also like to make sure they are professional looking.
The Panama City City Manager, Jeff Brown, told us by phone that city staff was in the process of drafting their own ordinance. Brown said their’s, too, is likely to be similar to the county’s but with some adjustments. He likens their legislation on dispensaries to be similar to tattoo parlors.
Until then, the owner and manager of Carun Pharmacy want to make sure people do their homework. “We’re promoting education over anything else,” Croft said.
City and county rules cannot supersede state rules and cannot act upon their laws until the state makes a plan. So when the state eventually drafts its medical marijuana plan, it’s possible local leaders will have to adjust their laws.