By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A southwest Florida city took steps Wednesday to ban medical marijuana users from lighting up a joint in public if an amendment legalizing the drug's limited use statewide is approved by voters in November.
"Just because one person has the right to get high doesn’t mean everyone around them has to get high,” said Ben Nelson, mayor of Bonita Springs 15 miles north of Naples on Florida's west coast.
The Bonita Springs city council voted to begin drawing up an ordinance to ban the drug in public places, Nelson said.
The ordinance also will establish zoning and land use rules for future dispensaries, and a draft rule could be ready for a vote next month.
“The cities that were prepared, that didn’t get all upset and try to do an outright ban or ignore the potential problems, they’re the ones that did the best,” Nelson said.
Bonita Springs' proposed law would go further in protecting bystanders from sidestream smoke than ordinances in places like in Cocoa Beach which banned marijuana use on dispensary property or adjoining sidewalks and streets.
Many people believe they can get high from inhaling marijuana smoke.
Very little research has been performed on the effects of exposure to marijuana sidestream smoke, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
A 2004 National Institutes of Health study that exposed participants to the equivalent of five marijuana cigarettes inside a small, sealed, unventilated room found that measurable impacts on their oral fluids lasted only 30 minutes.
(Editing by David Adams)