Not One, But Two Marijuana Measures Now Appear Headed for March Election Ballot

Published : Tuesday, October 8, 2019 | 4:39 AM

Cannabis could be going back to Pasadena voters and in a big way. This time voters could have two competing measures to vote on.

The City Council voted on Monday to discuss drafting its own measure that would compete with The People’s Initiative to Preserve the Existing Operation of Non-Offending Commercial Cannabis Businesses at the March ballot.

The Non-Offending Commercial Cannabis measure would overturn key portions of Measure CC, which voters passed last year and limits the number of cannabis businesses in Pasadena, and allow more than a dozen cannabis business that previously operated in Pasadena illegally to reopen shop anyplace in the city outside of a residential zone.

Unlike the City-approved operators going through the City’s stringent process, the 18 returning operators would not face distance limitations to residential zones, churches, libraries or schools.

“They get to skip the first two steps the cannabis screening process and the CUP [Conditional Use Permit] and go straight to operating,” said Assistant City Attorney Theresa Fuentes. “They would never have to have a CUP.”

City Clerk Mark Jomsky said he would return later this month with the contrasting measure. The City must submit its measure by Nov. 25.

In June, City officials announced that Integral Associates Dena, Tony Fong, the Atrium Group, Harvest of Pasadena, SweetFlower Pasadena and MME Pasadena Retail scored the highest in the city’s process, which required a $14,000 fee from each applicant.

Only Harvest of Pasadena, Tony Fong and Integral Associates Dena submitted applications that comply with the city’s ordinance.

However they could be at a disadvantage if the Non-Offending Commercial Cannabis passes, the operators could skip the screening process and the CUP application process and move on open spaces quicker than businesses going through the city’s process.

“A few rogue operators that did not follow the rules that want to turn the process on his head,” said Councilmember Victor Gordo. “It would give an unfair advantage to a very small group of people that did not follow the rules.”

The initiative would give the former operators the right to operate with impunity until 2025.

The City spent years and over $1 million combatting dispensaries operating without licenses and at one point threatened to shut off utilities at the shops.

“Non-offending commercial cannabis businesses may continue engaging in commercial cannabis activity within the city of Pasadena without a commercial cannabis permit from the city of Pasadena until December 31, 2024,” according to the initiative. “Non-offending commercial cannabis businesses operating without a permit pursuant to this subdivision shall not be deemed, ordered discontinued, modified, or removed as a public nuisance pursuant to the Pasadena Municipal Code based solely on their engagement in commercial cannabis activities permitted by this Chapter. Owners of non-offending commercial cannabis businesses operating without a permit pursuant to this subdivision may apply for a commercial cannabis permit from the city of Pasadena at any time. After December 31, 2024, all commercial cannabis businesses may operate only after such businesses apply for and receive a commercial cannabis permit pursuant to this Chapter.”

If both the Non-Offending Commercial Cannabis measure and the City’s opposing measure pass, only the measure garnering the most votes would be enacted.

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