TAVARES – County commissioners are one step closer to placing a temporary moratorium on medical marijuana in unincorporated Lake County.

In the first of two public hearings on the issue, county commissioners approved the moratorium, although commissioners were clear that they are not interested in regulating medical marijuana.

Commissioner Welton Cadwell said it is essential the county meet with the municipalities to come up with an organized zoning procedure to avoid ending up with pockets of establishments.

“We want to make sure there is some type of uniformity,” he said. “I look at it purely as a zoning issue and want to make sure we do it the right way.”

Voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to approve Amendment 2 to legalize medical marijuana for people with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician. County commissioners voted for the temporary ban to give themselves a “period of time that is reasonably necessary for the Board of County Commissioners to determine proper regulations regarding such businesses and facilities, if deemed advisable by the county,” according to the county ordinance.

State Rep. Larry Metz, R-Yalaha, previously said the Florida Legislature would not have the authority to override anything specific in the amendment.

But at the same time, there may be a need for greater detail from the Legislature on regulatory implementation, Metz added.

The state would not review the law until March 2017.

While supporting the moratorium, County Commission Chairman Sean Parks once again advocated for an ordinance he proposed a few weeks ago limiting the dispensing of medical marijuana in Lake County to four or five dispensaries.

He added Osceola County recently passed an ordinance similar to his proposal.

Even so, Commissioner Leslie Campione disagreed with Parks’ proposed ordinance.

“I did not want to do it in a way that we created more paperwork and we became the deciders who met the regulatory framework decided by the state,” she said. “Let’s not spend a lot of money in being involved in the regulatory side of it.”

Campione added of the ordinance: “If this passes and the voters want to move forward it is not our intent to withhold services for those who are in need. We want to make sure we do this in a systematic way. We are looking out for our community.”

Cadwell emphasized the county is not trying to stop the legalization of medical marijuana.

“We are trying to have an organized way for retail businesses,” he said. “To have rules that would make zoning consistent with our cities.”

Commissioners will vote whether to adopt the ordinance on Nov. 8 at the final public hearing on the issue.