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Estero has banned medical marijuana dispensaries.

Village councilors voted unanimously Wednesday morning to ban medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities from within village boundaries.

Councilors voted on the second reading of ordinance 2017-10, which says that the village would accept or approve no requests for development orders, building permits or other applications for proposed medical marijuana facilities in the village.

State legislation has no restriction on the number of dispensaries in Estero if the village permitted them, said village attorney Burt Saunders.

The only restriction is that, if permitted, dispensaries can only be placed where retail pharmacies can be located, Saunders said.

“The only way to have any control at all at this point is to ban dispensaries in total until the legislature fixes that,” Saunders told the board.

More: Estero to consider medical marijuana dispensary ban

Estero Councilor Howard Levitan said he understood the public’s concern about access to medical marijuana, but the state legislature put Estero in a difficult position.

“There is no justifiable reason that the legislature took away our home rule to allow us to determine how many dispensaries should be allowed in Estero and where from our zoning they should be best cited,” Levitan said. “Citing them at any property that is acceptable for retail pharmacy is not acceptable for medical marijuana as far as I’m concerned.”

Saunders did say the dispensary ban approved by the council on Wednesday could be lifted at any time.

Three people spoke against the ban Wednesday morning, citing the recommendation from the Estero Planning and Zoning Board, which in October voted to recommend the village council not adopt the ordinance.

More: Estero board rejects medical marijuana dispensary ban, Village Council to decide

“Your Planning and Zoning Board voted against the ban on dispensaries,” said Pelican Sound resident Ben Bachrach. “You have a duty to not extend the ban.”

Nick Garulay, of Naples, with My Florida Green, an online platform to assist patients in obtaining medical marijuana recommendations, also spoke against the ordinance, explaining that medical marijuana is much safer than opioids.

“No one has ever died on marijuana overdose,” Garulay said. “The only way you can die from marijuana is if a brick of it falls on your head.”

Estero Mayor Jim Boesch was absent from the meeting.

The Estero Village Council first debated the ordinance at a council meeting on Nov. 1.

More: Estero might tighten ethics rules for appointed boards, considers medical marijuana ban

At an October meeting, the Estero Planning and Zoning Board, an appointed board that is tasked with reviewing the zoning plans in the village, voted to recommend the village council not adopt the ordinance, saying it was too restrictive and could have a negative impact on residents in Estero who might need access to medical marijuana.

Last December, Estero adopted a one-year moratorium on cannabis dispensaries. At the time, the village said the moratorium would give it time to see how the Florida Legislature implemented Amendment 2.

More: Estero bans medical marijuana dispensaries for a year

At the same meeting, the Village Council also decided to postpone decisions on the draft ethics ordinance, which would tighten rules regarding conflicts of interest for members of Estero’s appointed land use boards.

This comes after the Design Review Board, which reviews village architecture and aesthetic development plans, heavily criticized the draft ordinance at a meeting last week.

More: Estero Design Review Board slams draft ethics ordinance

Councilor Levitan said the village will still pursue the ordinance, but work needs to be done for all parties to understand the goal of the legislation.

“We’re not going to shelve this indefinitely,” Levitan said. “We’re going to get to it, but we’re going to take a couple extra steps.”

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