I was extremely disappointed by the very misleading op-ed written by Lemon Grove City Councilman Jerry Jones. In order to support his extreme bias against medical marijuana access, he has painted a false picture, both of the current state of medical marijuana regulation in Lemon Grove and what the currently circulating initiative petition would accomplish.

It is this institutional opposition to subvert the will of the voters, who just last November voted to allow medical marijuana access in the city, that has led a group I’m part of to publish a follow-up initiative to close the loopholes that the city has found to avoid implementing Measure V, and safeguard patient rights.

Letters logoIt would allow patients to have a plant in the privacy of their home, without making it government record, allow permitted dispensaries to make deliveries to home-bound patients, ensure construction work on dispensaries is performed by a licensed and trained workforce and add definitions for the sensitive uses of Licensed Day Care Facility and Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Center.

Jones writes that the initiative petition would lead to no protection of “church-based schools and the removal of any accountability for facilities in violation of the law and city ordinances.” There is nothing in the current initiative petition that would eliminate church-based schools as a sensitive use buffer. There is nothing that would stop the city from suspending or revoking a permit for a dispensary that is out of compliance with local or state regulations.

The biggest falsehood in Jones’ op-ed is his claim that “marijuana businesses will pay no local taxes.” Lemon Grove is unique, because in Measure V, a yearly per patient fee was included that would lead an average dispensary to pay over $60,000 in fees to the city per year, beyond what would be paid through standard sales tax. This would be, by far, the largest tax, or fee, levied on medical marijuana dispensaries by any jurisdiction in San Diego County.

This tax revenue, however, could only be collected if Lemon Grove were to allow a medical marijuana dispensary to open within its city limits.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Despite Lemon Grove staff producing an absurdly biased impact report to voters prior to the election, making the outrageous claim that Measure V would lead to 15 dispensaries, only two dispensaries’ applications submitted could be approved under the current ordinance (not three, as claimed by Jones).

These applications, however, continue to languish in planning as staff continues to concoct new requirements – asking for ever more outlandish documentation, including incorporating papers of the agent of register and background checks of licensed cultivators in other jurisdictions, among other nonsensical requests, to delay the processing of these applications.

When Measure V was passed, voters were told that they would be allowed to have limited plants for personal medicinal use – the city is now requiring that that all patients growing for personal use register with the city and submit to a property inspection. The city has prohibited dispensary deliveries, which were allowed under Measure V. Staff even proposed subverted language in Measure V that would have allowed for cultivation at dispensaries and for operating hours between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. by proposing no cultivation be allowed at dispensaries and restricting their operating hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which would have made it impossible for a dispensary to survive.

The initiative would in no way “open up the floodgates for medical marijuana dispensaries,” as Jones argued. At most, it could conceivably allow for two additional dispensaries, still far fewer than voters were told would be allowed in Measure V.

I’m as upset as Jones at the idea of a special election. It is unconscionable that the voters must re-affirm their clearly stated desire to allow safe access.

That said, a special election is in no way necessary. Should our group collect enough signatures, the City Council can adopt the new definitions, and the issue would be resolved. The only reason a special election would be required is if the obstructionists, who lost last year, demand to vote again.

If the city had chosen to act in good faith and to faithfully implement the intent of the ordinance, none of this would be necessary. But the continuous stream of bias and inaccurate information being provided by city officials, like Jones, only fuels a lack of confidence in city government, and strengthens my resolve that further citizen regulation is needed to safeguard safe access in Lemon Grove.

Cynara Velazquez is a representative of Citizens for Public Safety and Safe Access, and is author of Measure V and the Lemon Grove initiative petition that is currently circulating.

    This article relates to: Marijuana, Opinion

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    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    Three applications moving forward. One is complete for sure and ready for Council to hear.

    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    Always love it when political hacks resort to deception, misdirection and character assignation. I'm sure your clients pay you well for your service. Let's begin with this alleged bias. Interesting interpretation considering that in 2012 I authored and put my name to the argument in favor of a ballot measure similar to Measure V. If I have a bias it's on the side of public safety and protecting the children of my city not an abolition of compassionate care access.

    As far as the tax issue goes there is no tax on medical marijuana in Lemon Grove. There is a business license requirement and that is a fee not a tax. As arguably generous as of may be, it is not inline with the tax paid by other businesses in town like Home Depot and the like. It does not cover the public safety impacts and does not cover the special election taxpayers are being asked to fund. But all of that aside let's focus on the real issue and my real bias. At no time have I advocated for the abolition of medical marijuana access. I heard the petition signers in 2012 and I heard the voters in 2016. My issue is the segregated status of church-based schools and small, home-based, day care centers in the petition you are circulating.

    As a former member of the School Board I have always been a little embarrassed at the decision my predecessors made some 90 years ago to segregate the children of the Mexican farm workers in the district. If you haven't heard of the Lemon Grove Incident look it up. I wasn't even alive when that decision was made but I know more than one of the ancestors of those children still living in town. I call them friend and neighbor and I would never let anything like that happen again without a fight and my personal involvement in that fight. I would never never accept a petition with this kind of discrimination on it's face value and the community would never forgive me if I did, in spite of the $300,000 price tag for a special election.

    Your attempt to treat the children of this community differently for the sake of profit is despicable. Your attempt to buy your way in with the promise of license fees and non-existent tax dollars is insulting. If this community can't see through your greed and is willing to subjugate our children to a segregated class system, I fear for our future.

    If your real goal is compassionate care and you are willing to accept the concerns of the community as they have conveyed them to me then I am more that willing to work with you to get the three applications moving if I am able (I am just one vote in five). I saw an appeal that was tabled at our last meeting that I think has potential as well. The ball is in your court.

    Lemon Grove
    Lemon Grove

    Jerry there is only two applicants that are cleared to move forward not three, not sure where this information is coming from but it's false. It has become very apparent that lemon grove has no intention of honoring the wishes of its voters . So before you preach about us "greedy" business people and how our only interest is profit why don't you take a look at the broken CUP process that YOUR CITY has, the one that caused this issue in the first place. You can not tell me that there is not BIAS behavior coming from the city. We all know Lydias agenda on this matter! I hope you really do what you say your going to do and look into this Monday. David DeVries should be able to fill you in.....