For people living with debilitating diseases and health conditions, medical marijuana can significantly improve their quality of life. It can be very helpful for those dealing with a lot of pain.

But for some patients in Palm Beach County, getting access to it hasn’t been easy.

On Tuesday evening, the Boca Raton City Council cleared  a hurdle for approval that could serve to lift a ban that prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries from opening in Boca Raton.

Since medical marijuana was legalized in Florida back in 2016, the city council has enforced a ban.

“Under state law wherever pharmacies are allowed, medical marijuana dispensaries could be allowed too,” said Mayor Scott Singer. “So staff has come up with a variety of solutions in terms of minimum square footage or distance separation to limit the number of dispensaries that might come in all at one time.”

For councilman Andy Thomson, who’s pushing for the ban to be lifted, the fight to do so hits very close to home; his mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 25 years ago.

“When you see a disease like that starting to have an effect on your loved one, it is a very helpless feeling and that feeling has stuck with me for 25 years,” he said. “My mom now is unfortunately bedridden. She couldn’t take medical marijuana if she wanted to but I think had it been available back then, 20 years ago, I can’t help but feel it would’ve helped, not stop the symptoms because you can’t, but it would’ve helped her quality of life throughout that time.”

Councilman Thomson says he understands the hesitation some people have towards opening dispensaries but is hoping residents trust the council members have taken those fears into consideration while outlining this ordinance.

“People are worried or scared that it’s either going to affect our quality of life here or that there will be more drugs here or that their kids will get involved in it and you know, those aren’t unreasonable policy positions; that’s totally fair but our job at the city is to make sure that we can be compassionate with people who are very sick and need medicine and also not allow it to affect your quality of life,” he said.

Thomson says the ordinance would allow patients in Boca Ration to have easier access to medical marijuana.

“What ends up happening here is people who are very very sick, with a terrible disease, they cannot get the medicine they need easily. They have to go elsewhere which may not seem like it’s that big of a deal if you have to drive to Lake Worth or West Palm Beach, but imagine being in a wheelchair or bed ridden and being told now that you can’t get this medicine, you have to either drive further or get it delivered? To me that’s just not the compassionate thing to do.”

Tuesday night, the Boca Raton City Council approved amendments addressing the size of facilities and the distance from other pharmacies. The first amendment requires retail pharmacies and dispensaries to be 2,500 square feet or above.

The second amendment demands each and every retail pharmacy and dispensary be four thousand feet from each other in the city of Boca Raton.

“I’m not happy with this being the best way to move on, but I understand it is a way,” Deputy Mayor Jeremy Rodgers said.

Despite opposition from Rodgers and council member Andrea Levine O’rourke, the council voted to approve.

“I hear it, and my heart goes out to people that really care about this. I’m not hearing this from the basic population that I’m dealing with,” Orourke said.

In the end, the amendments passed, relief to supporters in attendance.

At iRISE Spine and Joint we have some of the best doctors in South Florida who specialize in pain management. While you now have the opportunity to utilize medical marijuana, we may be able to offer you a viable alternative.

If you need help with pain management due to an auto accident, please feel free to give us a call at 800-945-6001. We’re here to help.

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