Sebastian enacts emergency order to halt new pain clinics

SEBASTIAN – No new pain clinics will be moving into the City of Sebastian within the next six months after the Sebastian City Council unanimously supported an emergency moratorium on such businesses.

The emergency order went into effect last week and gives the city’s staff time to review its land use codes and policies and establish new rules. Such changes could include prohibiting pain clinics and pain management clinics from being allowed to dispense medications – such as narcotic painkiller Oxycodone – on site.

“If we don’t act on it, and act quickly…we’re going to have some serious issues,” said Sebastian Police Detective Theo Robinson, who has spent the last five years with department fighting drug-related crimes in the city.

In one case he worked, Det. Robinson and his team raided a home in Sebastian that contained 2,000 Oxycodone pills that were bound for New York. Those arrested had gotten the pills from pain clinics in South Florida.

In another case, authorities in Sebastian arrested a suspect in connection to more than 100 vehicular burglaries and four home burglaries – all of which were to support the suspect’s Oxycodone drug habit, Det. Robinson said.

“It’s a scary, scary thing that’s headed our way,” City Councilwoman Andrea Coy said.

City Attorney Robert Ginsburg told the council that he does not favor moratoriums but would put one in place if so directed. He said he would rather the city change its ordinances first by going through public hearings.

He said the ordinance could be in place within about a month and any pain clinics that opened in the meantime and did not adhere to the new ordinance would be “out of business” by September or October when it came time to renew its business license.

Ginsburg also warned the council that there are no prohibitions on pain clinics as of yet in the unincorporated portions of the county or in Fellsmere. Sebastian could enact its own rules, but it would probably only force those clinics elsewhere.

“We can do our part, but that’s all we can do,” Ginsburg said.

Vice Mayor Jim Hill questioned how many drugs could be distributed and how much money could be made between now and September.

“That’s a great concern of mine,” he said.

His fellow council members agreed and voted to put an emergency moratorium in place. In the meantime, Growth Management Director Rebecca Grohall and her staff will work with Ginsburg and the Sebastian Police Department to craft a new ordinance that would address pain clinics.

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