La Mesa Dispensary Permit Revoked

Alex Scherer spoke in defense of his dispensary to La Mesa City Council.

By Cara Anderson

This week, a dispensary permit for New Origins Management Inc. was revoked in La Mesa. The proprietor, Alex Scherer, is also the owner of South West Patient Group, a medical marijuana dispensary in San Ysidro, and the President/Co-Founder of the United Medical Marijuana Coalition.

The permit was revoked after an appeal request from the San Diego Center for Children. Moises Baron of the SDCC urged for the appeal, as the dispensary location shares a parking lot with the SDCC clinic.

With advice from La Mesa’s city staff and city attorney, and after surveying the SDCC property, Scherer believed the building was not protected under Measure U and applied for the 7339 El Cajon Blvd. Suite C dispensary permit.

Apparently La Mesa’s Planning Commission believed that as well, because Scherer was approved for a dispensary permit in March.

Representatives from SDCC as well as Cynara Velazquez of the Association of Cannabis Professionals spoke for the two appeals filed against the dispensary permit.

During the hearing, the definition of a “minor oriented facility” was parsed. Measure U states that minor oriented facilities are teen centers, after-school programs, girls/boys clubs, children’s theatres, or children’s museums which are primarily devoted to people under 18 years old. It was argued that the SDCC, a behavior therapy center, is not defined as a minor oriented facility.

One city staff member said, “When we look at that list, it’s a specific list, and when we look at what the center does… staff didn’t find that the center was consistent with any of those uses listed. Further that we did not believe they are consistent with an after school program.”

He continued, “The recommendation from staff is to deny the appeal, uphold the planning commissions approval of conditional use permit CUP 17-31.”

Despite city staff’s recommendation, La Mesa council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal and revoke the dispensary permit.

Scherer’s team was surprised by city councils move, “The La Mesa City Attorney and Development Staff reviewed the services provided by the Family Wellness Center and determined it didn’t qualify as a minor-oriented facility. Throughout the 15-month long application process the issue was never raised. So I am extremely disappointed that the City Council failed to investigate the matter further considering they were going against City Staff, the Planning Commission recommendation, and the voters of La Mesa. Instead, they made a quick decision based on optics and public comment rather than a detailed review of the facts.”