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By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 25, 2018 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa City Council on Tuesday night gave a unanimous thumbs down, turning its back on an earlier La Mesa Planning Commission conditional use permit approval of a marijuana dispensary in the La Mesa Medical Plaza near 70th and El Cajon.

Several medical practitioners who have offices in the building objected at an appeal to the City Council. The most prominent of those voicing a concern was The San Diego Center for Children (SDCC) which provides outpatient mental health services for minors a few steps away from the dispensary.

La Mesa voters last November passed Measure U, that that allows medical marijuana businesses to operate in the city through a permitting and licensing process. Unlike nearby El Cajon, the measure authorizes and regulates dispensaries, and the cultivating and manufacturing of medical marijuana. The measure does provide that medical marijuana dispensaries not be allowed to open within 1,000 feet of a “minor-oriented” facility.

The staff of the center argued before the council that their facility should be considered as a “minor-oriented facility” and should be added to the city’s “sensitive use” list which would make it illegal for a dispensary to open within 1000 feet of such a clinic. It has been operating for some 17 years at the location and serves children with mental, emotional and behavioral disorders from 27 schools.

According to ECM news partner 10News, the clinic says a direct line from their front door can be drawn to the front door of the proposed medical marijuana dispensary. The longtime clinic occupies suites J and K, but the medical dispensary could be moving into suite C. The offices also share a walkway and parking lot.

In an earlier TV news piece, Dr. Cheryl Rode, VP of Clinical Operations for the Center said to 10News, “Literally, our clients and their clients would be interacting pretty regularly.” She added, “We feel that we clearly meet the criteria for a minor-oriented facility and that our facility was overlooked.”

10News was told that because voters approved measure U, the city doesn’t have the ability to interpret the law or intent outside of its plain language which does not include mental health and therapeutic services.

Kerry Kusiak, La Mesa Director of Community Development, had sent 10News a statement that read in part:

“Since the center does not fall within the definition of a “minor-oriented facility,” Measure U does not require any separation between the center and the dispensary. The staff recommendation to the City Council is to uphold the Planning Commission’s approval.”

Follow Paul Kruze on Twitter and Facebook: @PaulKruzeNews

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Short sighted on the current practitioners. Someday they may need a source for medical marijuana - more likely CBD products for their patients. Would have been beneficial to have a trusted dispensary nearby.