Marijuana dispensary could open up in city

Sheldon Gardner

Trulieve has applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the city of St. Augustine, but the organization first needs approval from the city’s planning board.

The office would be at 2303 N. Ponce de Leon Blvd., also known as U.S. 1, at a strip mall on the west side of the road that is home to an internet cafe and other businesses.

“Trulieve believes there is a need to serve the patients of St. Augustine and would like to provide a safe and convenient medical marijuana dispensary to all patients in need,” according to the application.

Trulieve officials didn’t return calls requesting comment on Wednesday afternoon. The business is authorized to dispense marijuana by the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use, which regulates the medical marijuana industry in Florida.

The city’s zoning rules allow medical marijuana dispensaries at certain sites with direct access to U.S. 1, with approval of a use by exception by the Planning and Zoning Board. 

“The reason why [we kept them to U.S. 1] was there were security concerns, so that was the route that the police department could get to most quickly,” city Planning and Building Department Director David Birchim said.

The planning board hearing for Truelieve is expected to be June 5, and it will mark the first application by a dispensary to open in the city, Birchim said.

The city of St. Augustine Beach and St. Johns County have banned marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdictions.

State law has evolved over the past few years to expand medical marijuana use, including the conditions that qualify for treatment.

When the City Commission adopted its zoning rules in 2014, a low-THC brand of cannabis had been approved for use. Birchim said at the time that the zoning changes “were intended

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