Second medical marijuana dispensary heads to Lemon Grove

Lemon Grove will have a second medical marijuana dispensary on Federal Boulevard.

The Lemon Grove City Council last week voted 4-0 to grant a conditional-use permit to Federal and College Group, Inc., headed by applicant Nidia Castaneda, to open a yet-to-be named collective at 6859 Federal Blvd.

City Councilman David Arambula was absent.

The permit comes two months after the City Council OK’d the city’s first dispensary at 6470 Federal Blvd. The dispensaries will be less than a mile from one another.

The newly approved dispensary is on about two-thirds of an acre. Formerly the home of a church, the collective will offer 1,160 square feet of display area to sell medical marijuana products. It will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week. It will only sell goods and cannot cultivate, manufacture, process or deliver marijuana from the business.

The new tenants will upgrade the site with improved landscaping, weed abatement, up to an 8-foot fence, better lighting, parking and security.

The city’s first cannabis store, The Grove, plans to open deep in the city’s light industrial zone and backing up to state Route 94. Other than a construction issue earlier this summer, which has delayed its expected October opening until November, The Grove faced little pushback from residents.

The second dispensary, however, faced some opposition at the City Council meeting — and not because of the products it will be selling.

The site of the dispensary will be on the bottom floor of a two-story office building on the southeast side of Federal and west of College Avenue.

A second floor of the building, once home to an engineering contractor’s office, can only be rented out to a non-marijuana-based entity, the city said.

The property has been empty and the area has been dimly lit for several years.

A few residents who live near the site told the City Council they are concerned about the homeless population that congregates in the vicinity.

One neighbor mentioned a bike path that has been carved out that provides access to a storm drain and places for people to hide out. Garbage is strewn around the area and trees have been painted on and defaced.

Deborah Baczynski has lived for 30 years with her husband in a home on Chateau Way. The house was built on a hill that is 20 feet above the coming store. Baczynski shared photos showing an area where trees were removed in 2015 near her property, giving her full view of what goes on below.

She said while the city “cleaned up the large community of homeless,” one of her neighbors allowed them to live in their backyard, and she was concerned that “a medical marijuana dispensary so close to them will be their regular hangout.”

Sapphire Blackwood, a marijuana advocate and land-use consultant who works for the Association of Cannabis Professionals, told residents there will be a community liaison who will be in open communication with the city of Lemon Grove to keep the area safe.

“We do care about local neighborhoods, we are aware of the issues that arise and the trends in marijuana,” Blackwood said. “This is not a hangout place for transient individuals.”

karen.pearlman@sduniontribune.com

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