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NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – National City soon will become the first city in San Diego County to allow cannabis lounges.

Last week, National City City Council approved an ordinance allowing the lounges to open. It clears the way for up to three lounges and three commercial dispensaries to operate just west of Interstate 5 in the area of Tidelands Avenue and Bay Marina Drive.

The application process is expected to open in the next 30 days.

“We are still developing that whole area,” National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said. “It could really become a destination.”

Sotelo-Solis said legislation out of Sacramento seemed to indicate it wouldn’t be long before cannabis lounges would be permitted statewide. Her hope was to get in front of the movement by pushing it forward and ultimately controlling the layout in a way that could win city approval.

“Let’s just say it’s kind of like a bar,” she said. “If you wanted to do a tasting, whether it be a beer or wine, craft beer, you choose your product. You’d be educated on the alcohol content, where it was made, a little bit about it, the flavor and then you go and you’re able to enjoy.”

She adds: “By doing this, not only are we regulating what we want to see and how we see it, but it’s also helping to regulate the black market.”

Some of the city’s regulations include:

  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption in the lounges is prohibited;
  • Customers must be aged 21 or older;
  • A security guard must be working during the hours of operation; and
  • Approval of permits is dependent upon an Anti-Drugged Driving Plan.

The plan had some mixed reaction among locals on Monday.

“I hadn’t heard that yet, but I’d think it’d be pretty cool,” National City resident Rember Sanchez said. “I’d probably go myself.”

“I think it’s crazy,” said Tina Castro who was visiting a nearby park with her grandson. “There’s a park right here. I’ve been going to this park for years. My dad used to bring us when we were kids. Now I’m bringing my grandkids. To have a place like that here, I don’t think so.”

Adrian Marroquin and his friends all fish at that same park. He says he’s surprised by the news of cannabis lounges, but he also wonders if they’ll suffer the same fate as local dispensaries.

“Yeah, there’s like nothing down here anymore,” Marroquin said.