Local pastors have organized a community forum addressing Propositions T and Q, the dual medical marijuana measures going before Lemon Grove voters on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Lemon Grove Clergy Association will host the panel discussion starting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium at the Lemon Grove Academy for the Sciences and Humanities. Guest speakers will include research experts and community representatives.
Patch asked Mark Stapleton, pastor of the Cornerstone Community Church and a member of the clergy association, why church leaders are concerned about the ballot initiatives and where he stands on the issue.
Lemon Grove Patch: Why have the pastors organized this community forum?
Pastor Mark Stapleton: Our main concern is voter education. We are not hosting the forum to tell people how to vote, but to help them know what their vote means.
With two measures on the ballot it makes the issue confusing. Both T and Q allow for Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (MMD) to be established in Lemon Grove. We are concerned that those who do not wish to have a dispensary in Lemon Grove may not know that they must vote “No” on both T and Q.
In our forum, we will not be discussing the validity of marijuana as a medical product or useful for pain relief, but discussing whether or not we want MMDs in Lemon Grove and what the possible impact on the community would be.
Lemon Grove Patch: What is your biggest concern with allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Lemon Grove?
Stapleton: I think our biggest concern is the basic safety and well-being of our community, especially our youth, if MMD’s are allowed in Lemon Grove, my guess is it would not just stay at one. A concern with that much marijuana exposure would lead to the diversion of the product.
A University of Colorado School of Medicine study (July 2012 American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry) showed that nearly three-quarters of teens in two metro area substance abuse treatment programs said they have used medical marijuana bought or grown for someone else. Only one of 122 teens in the study who admitted to using medical marijuana was an approved patient.
Overexposure of marijuana, especially when advertised as “medical,” will desensitize and distract youth from its harmful effects. The revolution in brain science has increased concerns about harm in the teen brain. And, as you heard at the City Council meeting, incidents of loitering, crime and vandalism tend to increase in areas where MMD’s operate. This is not good for our city.
Lemon Grove Patch: What is your stand on the two measures—are you opposed to both; do you support one over the other?
As I said, we are not getting into the issue of whether marijuana can be considered a medicine or not, or whether or not it is beneficial for pain relief, etc. But one fact is that the Federal government still views marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. It is illegal at the Federal level. The issue of medical marijuana should be fought in Congress and the courts, not on the city streets and local ordinances. Even if a MMD gets voted in, the city would have to deal with the Federal government—as it historically comes in and cracks down on MMD’s.
I am concerned about the exposure to our community, especially the youth, to a drug (no matter how helpful it is to some people). I am concerned about the criminal component that will make its way into the city, especially if we are the only (or one of the few) cities with MMDs. I do not want the city to have the headache of dealing with the strong possibility of the Federal government having to come in and close the shop.
These reasons, along with the others mentioned above, compel me to personally vote “No” on Propositions T and Q.