Southern California City May Never Get the Cannabis They Voted For

The city of Lemon Grove is in a financial predicament that could eliminate safe access to cannabis in the city before it even starts. Back in 2017, citizens of Lemon Grove voted in favor of safe access to cannabis, yet the city has yet to open even one dispensary.

Local community group, Lemon Grove Improvement Council, has created a petition asking for an independent audit of the city’s finances.

Currently, Lemon Grove is on the brink of bankruptcy and has been looking for new revenue sources. Despite the increase in commerce that cannabis dispensaries would bring to the city, Lemon Grove has looked to solutions like hat and t-shirt sales to supplement the failing budget.

If Lemon Grove does declare bankruptcy, the city may have to disincorporate as well. Disincorporation of Lemon Grove would mean that the area becomes a part of San Diego County municipality; the county itself does not allow cannabis. Other cities that have disincorporated faced a five-year wind-down period for cannabis businesses.

Lemon Grove Improvement Council believes that the audit will illustrate how the city has gotten so far in the hole, and provide an understanding that will allow citizens to best decide how they can help save Lemon Grove from disincorporation.

Aside from cannabis, an issue that residents and business owners alike are concerned about is the city’s lack of transparency about the city’s finances. In 2018, the city hired a new financial manager who found a sum of over $800,000 missing from the city’s funds.

The Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Mike James said the city recently discovered through a “revenue reconciliation” that money thought to be available was actually not.

The sum was later reduced to around $400,000, and chalked up as “human error.”

City Manager Lydia Romero was quoted by the San Diego Union-Tribune saying, “It was human error that accounts for the unaccounted-for money.” Romero added, “There was nothing nefarious about it… It was human error.”

Featured image via the City of Lemon Grove.