La Mesa Proposing new Rules for Marijuana

September 24, 2019
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The city of La Mesa may become the first city in the county to allow marijuana dispensaries without a cap on the number of shops.

“We didn’t play that game,” says La Mesa City Council Member Bill Baber. “We’re basically saying they’re in our commercial areas, they have to be regulated, and the market itself will flush out how many get to exist.”

Councilmember Bill Baber says the hope is that the bill will weed out illegal pot shops by creating a path to run a legitimate business.

In contrast, Chula Vista hopes a limited number of legal dispensaries will drive customers away from illegal pot shops.

At the moment, only one legal shop operates in La Mesa. “We’re proposing our dispensaries that have legally been selling medicinal marijuana to also move one step forward and to sell recreational. It’s the same product.”

Under the new laws, the dispensaries will be taxed. The money will go to the city’s general fund. It will help with putting more officers on the street and shutting down illegal operations. Councilman Baber says the city estimates the new ordinance will bring in nearly $2 million a year in city taxes.as well as to clean up old run-down buildings that once housed illegal dispensaries.

“In 4 years our city attorney and our police have shut down 26 of these,” says Baber.

West La Mesa Resident, Erik Egelko, says the boarded-up businesses are now bringing in squatters. Behind an old, illegal pot shop on El Cajon Boulevard sits old furniture, trash and the rancid smell of urine.

“It just really turned into a slum,” says Egelko. “I see west la Mesa as having this incredible potential.”

The La Mesa City Council will be reviewing the ordinance during tomorrow’s city council meeting. There will be public comments for residents to weight in.