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Miami Beach, cannabis company at odds over zoning restrictions

A cannabis company signed a 10-year lease and put $1.2 million into property renovations and construction on the site of its new Miami Beach marijuana dispensary — and then had its final building permit abruptly denied because the new dispensary would be roughly 100 feet from an existing dispensary.

The problem wasn’t with the cannabis company’s plans. The denial came because the Miami Beach planning board suddenly decided to add new zoning restrictions. Wary that the area might become a “cannabis hub,” they decided that new dispensaries had to be at least 300 feet away from any other dispensary. That automatically put a moratorium on any permits that conflicted — including those that were not quite finalized.

The cannabis company, MedMen, argued that the ordinance was invalid because it was created without public input. The company also asked for an exemption to be extended to dispensaries that were already in the pipeline for approval for building permits and just stalled — but the commission wouldn’t budge.

There does seem to be some opposition to the company’s presence by local residents. The president of the West Avenue Neighborhood Association stated that he believed that the cannabis company doesn’t represent medical marijuana patients interests at all. Instead, he feels that the company is merely trying to position itself in a prime location in the “party district” in advance of the day when marijuana eventually becomes legal for recreational use.

Zoning issues and problems with local regulations are just some of the problems that can crop up when a developer begins construction or renovates in order to start a new business. It’s always wise to have an experienced litigator on board in case a dispute turns into an expensive blockade.