Lemon Grove residents should be very wary of anyone asking for signatures to support a special election to revise the city’s medical marijuana laws.

Lemon Grove passed Measure V, approving medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, by a mere 85 votes. Pot proponents now want – among other things – less community oversight, no protection for small day care facilities or church-based schools and the removal of any accountability for facilities in violation of the law and city ordinances.

CommentaryKeep in mind that these marijuana businesses will pay no local taxes, and want the citizens of Lemon Grove to pay for a special election to the tune of $300,000.

The very same proponents who wrote the medical marijuana ordinance have now decided it’s too restrictive because it does not allow dispensaries to be located within 1,000 feet of a day care center or other sensitive uses like drug treatment facilities. They want to eliminate the safety distance for day care centers with less than 13 children and most church-based schools.

On top of those changes, they want to forbid public input on the permitting process and prohibit the revocation of any permits found in violation of the law or conditions of approval, eliminating a way for the community to deal with nuisance medical marijuana dispensaries.

If enough signatures are gathered and proponents get their revised ordinance on a special election ballot and voters approve it, it would open up the floodgates for medical marijuana dispensaries.

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

My question to my neighbors in Lemon Grove is this: How many medical marijuana dispensaries do we really need in our little town? Three dispensaries are moving forward and are on their way toward city approval. Do we really need more than that?

Because of the cash nature and the amount of money being made at these facilities, there are significant safety risks involved with medical marijuana dispensaries. Violent robberies, like those that have happened close by in Spring Valley, can happen at any legal or illegal facility.

Beyond concern for our own personal safety, we have a duty as a community to protect all of our children – rich or poor, at large day cares or small, public schools or private. We have a duty to preserve the rights of all of our citizens to have a voice in where and how any high-impact business in our town is approved – be it gas station, liquor store or medical marijuana dispensary.

Jerry Jones is a member of the Lemon Grove City Council. Jones’ commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here

    This article relates to: Marijuana, Opinion

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    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    Always love it when political hacks resort to lies, 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.  

    As promised I went  by City Hall to ask questions.  The two applications moving forward are not held up by city staff but the applicant that has not supplied all of the information to complete the application.  I reviewed the cultivation source application with staff and found it complicated but not unreasonable.  I am told that these questions and more will be required by the state for certification next year so I don't see a problem with them in our application.  This source verification requirement was written into the law by the pot advocates and not the city. As much as I would like to simplify this requirement or kick it down the road for the State to deal with I cannot.  It's written into the law the voters passed. Funny that this is being used as an excuse for a $300,000 ballot measure and is not changed in the proposed ballot language.

    I have my opinion and they are formed by the community I represent and the feedback I get from the people in the community.  Measure V won an election unopposed by just .48% and 85 votes.  4741 voters made a decision for 25,000+.  It is the law but it is not a mandate.  Based on the feed back I've gotten, another similar measure will not go unopposed. There are lots of people in this town that do not like what you are trying to do to our kids.  They will never stand for the segregation you are trying to sell.  If you think I am an army of one you better think again.  I'm just the messenger.

    On a last note.  Intimidating my family and spamming their social media accounts is not cool.  If you want to be treated like legitimate business people then act like it. 

    Cynara Velazquez
    Cynara Velazquez

    @Jerry Jones finally, after repeatedly claiming that there were three qualifying applications, it appears, based on your above comment, that you recognize that there are only two.  Thank you.   

    Regarding Home Depot, yes, Home Depot pays a higher overall amount in standard sales tax, because it makes far more money in sales than any medical marijuana dispensary - this is how standard sales tax works.  But to insinuate that dispensaries are not paying their fair share, when the city stands to gain $60,000 in additional fee revenue for every dispensary is dishonest.  Whether this is considered a fee or tax is splitting hairs, at the end of the day, it is money for the city. 

    To your comments regarding church based schools, I'm not sure how many times I have to repeat this - there is nothing in the follow up initiative that would impact church based schools. In Home daycares would also not be impacted because they exist in residential zones and dispensaries would only be allowed in commercial zones. 

    I am sorry that you feel intimidated. I don't believe that any of my comments have been in any way cruel or derogatory, my aim is only to clarify and to correct the numerous incorrect statements that exist both in your original op-ed and your comments on the same. Likewise, I am sorry to hear that someone has negatively interacted with your family on social media, I have no idea who this individual is  or why they would choose to do this, but it is certainly not anyone I am aware of or associated with.  Resorting to personal attacks is never cool. 

    Cynara Velazquez
    Cynara Velazquez

    I have responded to this extremely inaccurate article in the below response op-ed: 


    I did my best to highlight, and correct, the most blatant misinformation published in the above op-ed, but there were too many falsehoods in this article for me address them all. 

    But here is my issue   if Measure V, and the follow up initiative now circulating, were truly so bad, why would there be a need to make so many false statements to justify your opposition to them? 

    The extreme bias and misrepresentations presented by a Lemon Grove City official in this article only highlight the unfortunate need for further citizen legislation to prevent Lemon Grove Officials from working to subvert Measure V. 

    denise strattman
    denise strattman

    Thank you Jerry for this article! We need to spread the word our residents are being lied to and mislead by these greedy marijuana dispensaries that want to come in and take over Lemon Grove. It's about the money NOT the people. Have you heard of all the traffic and drama that's been happening down on i think olive st where the new dispensary is? I have pictures it's ridiculous residents are outraged even people who grew up on the street who also use marijuana were very upset. RESIDENTS BEWARE they are coming to your door lying saying the signature form is to eliminate the use if recreational use ITS NOT it's to remove daycares so they are no longer protected by the 1,000 feet policy.


    Lemon Grove
    Lemon Grove

    Jerry why has the city been stalling the two applicants who turned in complete apps 6 months ago??? Seems this 300k$ Debacle could be solved pretty easily....

    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    @Lemon Grove As I understand it the Conditional Use Permit applications are incomplete and waiting on the applicant.  La Mesa opened up their process before us and are in a similar situation according to what I've heard (meaning nothing official).  I've shared with staff my desire to see the three qualifying applicants move forward as soon as possible.  That's all I can do at this time. I do ask for status reports on a regular basis.

    Lemon Grove
    Lemon Grove

    Jerry you may want to check in with staff on this because this is not the case... the city has been purposefully holding up the applicants with a bs form called a "supplier agreement". They have changed the requirements multiple times coincidentally coinciding with the submital of completed supplier agreements by the applicants. This is what sparked the petition drive that is happening now. It is very obvious that the city has no intentions of implementing measure v in the manner that the authors intended. To compare the process to la mesa is absurd. La Mesa will be issuing permits in the upcoming month, 7 months from the date apps were turned in. Lemon grove is still fighting with its successful applicants 6 months after apps were submitted. So like I said the two processes couldn't be farther from similar. Oh and this is all while lemon grove has allowed the same illegal dispensary to operate on broadway in the same location for over a year... so while I do understand the intentions of this letter I will go out of my way to spread the word of the unjustly, unfair, and downright illegal behavior I have seen unfold with this process and in doing this I believe the residents of lemon grove will side with its people not its government.........

    Jerry Jones
    Jerry Jones

    And it always falls back to personal attacks. So to be clear, my wife and have lived in Lemon Grove for 40 years, raised our three boys here and will most likely end our days here. We've given to this community far beyond my service to the City Council as community volunteers and leaders both at our boys' schools in PTA and music boosters and the Chamber of Commerce. Any personal gain is only the gratification of knowing that we left the city a better place or at least tried. You clearly do not know me and clearly don't know our community.

    When the pot advocates brought their first ballot measure in 2012 I was assigned to work with staff to write a Medical Marijuana Measure that would satisfy the medical need and would impact the city and it's budget in a way we could live with. I even wrote the ballot argument in favor and signed it. There were two similar but competing measures on the ballot in that election and both failed by over 80%. Not 85 votes, 80%. So don't presume to know my agenda or that I have not listened to my community.

    The issue here is not”if”. It's about where and how many. As I stated in the article and elsewhere, we don't need a dispensary on every corner and we don't need them next to residential neighborhoods, schools, day cares, or play grounds. We really don't need more than one but I can live with three. There are now three dispensary applicants that have managed to read the map properly and secure properties that fall within the definition of the law written by the pot dispensary proponents. These are applicants that have listened to the voters and community and are truly respecting their wishes.

    I stand by the statements I've made in this article. Your statement Kathleen about Saint John and the City Attorney's opinion do not stand up to the same scrutiny. I'm not sure what meeting you were at but it's not me that has a hearing deficit.

    So consider this. By the time this $300k debacle makes it to the ballot, if it makes it, there should already be three legal dispensaries operating in the city. I could imagine a competing council or citizen lead measure adding a tax to actually bring in the revenue that the signature gathers have lied about and to place a 3 dispensary limit for the city. Pretty easy sell in my estimation.

    I have listened to my community and I have no personal agenda in the matter other than to protect all of our citizens. Even those too young to vote.

    Cynara Velazquez
    Cynara Velazquez

    @Jerry Jones Three dispensaries applications may have passed the initial zoning review process, but two of those are within 1,000 feet of each other, so only two would theoretically be allowed to open, based on zoning clearance. To say that three would be allowed to open is factually incorrect.

    With all due respect, while two dispensary initiative may have lost in 2012 (though they did not lose by 80% - they lost by 61.54% and 60%, yet another misrepresentation...), time have clearly changed, since in 2016 Measure V passed, and this reflects the current will of the voters, not a vote held in 2012. 

    Kathleen Mclean
    Kathleen Mclean

    There are NO legal dispensaries in Spring Valley. So an armed robbery is that of a common drug dealer. Legal Dispensaries are run like banks, 24 hour security with fences and very strict laws surround it. I find it disheartening a city council member is using scare tactics to get the attention of it's citizens. I personally went to the city council meeting for Saint John of the Cross School and churches aren't schools. The school was clearly over 1,000 feet away from the proposed dispensary. As a city council member I implore you to please follow the laws put in place to protect the citizens. This article is extremely misleading and disappointing. It would be fantastic if city council members would listen to it's city attorney, whom clearly stated as much. This article is in poor taste and should be rewritten with facts and objectivity. You were voted in office because people thought you would best listen to voters not push your own personal beliefs on the citizens of Lemon Grove. We don't know you, we can assume by your article that you have your own best interest at heart.

    If the city would approve dispensaries like the voters wanted in the first place there wouldn't be a special election.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    Would a dispensary in the same building as a Sheriff's substation but within 1,000 feet of a daycare facility be good or bad?