Clinic for troubled children in East County battling neighboring pot shop

Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 21:19:20-04

LA MESA, Calif. (KGTV) - A medical marijuana dispensary could be opening its doors just feet away from children in La Mesa.

Last month, the La Mesa Planning Commission approved a conditional use permit for New Origins Management, Inc. to open a medical marijuana dispensary, but the center says they were never contacted about it.  

One woman who has a teen at the San Diego Center for Children called the pot shop counterproductive to what parents and the clinic are trying to accomplish. The nonprofit helps young people with mental and behavioral issues.

The La Mesa Medical Plaza is a pretty peaceful place, but the San Diego Center for Children is worried about its future neighbor. The clinic says you can draw direct line from their front door to the front door of the proposed medical marijuana dispensary.

"Our concern is having our youth that close to a medical marijuana dispensary," said Dr. Cheryl Rode, VP of Clinical Operations for the Center.

The clinic occupies Suites J and K but a medical marijuana dispensary could be moving into Suite C.  The offices share a walkway and parking lot.

"Literally, our clients and their clients would be interacting pretty regularly," Dr. Rode said.

In November 2016, La Mesa voters passed Measure U, prohibiting medical marijuana dispensaries from opening within 1,000 feet of a minor-oriented facility.

It's defined as any after-school program, teen center, club for boys and/or girls, children's theater, or children's museum, where the primary use is for people under the age of 18.  

The Center argues it qualifies as an after-school program.

"We feel that we clearly meet the criteria for a minor-oriented facility and that our facility was overlooked," Dr. Rode said.

But the city disagrees.  They tell 10News because voters approved measure U, they don't have the ability to interpret the law or intent outside of its plain language, which does not include mental health and therapeutic services.  Director of Community Development Kerry Kusiak city sent us a statement that reads in part:

"Since the center does not fall within the definition of "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." 

It's a tough pill to swallow for parents trying to set their teens up for success.

"The purpose of this 1,000 foot limitation is to provide a buffer zone and safety for children," Dr. Rode said.

The "San Diego Center for Children" is appealing during Tuesday night's city council meeting at 6 p.m.