Spurned Cannabis Retail Applicant Vows Lawsuit Against City

Published : Friday, August 30, 2019 | 5:28 AM

[Updated]  One of six cannabis retail outlets selected by Pasadena said it will sue the City if claims it has made regarding the commercial cannabis licensing process are not addressed.

“We have not seen thus far any indication that you are willing to have an open and honest discussion about the many complaints Atrium has about the City’s cannabis program,” the company’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Berman wrote Pasadena officials in an Aug. 27 letter.

“Please understand that your reluctance to fairly deal with our concerns will leave Atrium with no recourse but to file a lawsuit against the City,” Berman concluded.

A City spokesperson declined to comment on Atrium’s letter.

“Our process is proceeding in accordance with the regulations and the measure approved by voters,” Lisa Derderian said Thursday in an email.

Atrium Group LLC filed a pair of claims against Pasadena in June impugning the manner in which the City disqualified Atrium’s application in favor of Harvest of Pasadena Inc.

Both companies applied for conditional use permits in Council District 3. The City’s process permits just one dispensary per City Council district. Harvest got the nod, because it was first under the wire.

District 3, with its lucrative Old Pasadena district, was the most popular choice among applicants.

In its claims, Atrium questioned the legitimacy of Harvest’s application and the City’s acceptance of same.

Atrium said the City’s decision to allow Harvest’s application—which was received a day before Atrium’s—to be ruled “complete and code compliant,” was wrong.

“This decision was the result of multiple errors by City staff in reaching a determination that the application of Harvest of Pasadena, Inc, was complete,” wrote Larry Mondragon, who represents the Atrium Group as a cannabis consultant.

According to Atrium’s claim, the wrongful actions were committed by David Reyes, Director of Planning, City Manager Steve Mermell; Assistant City Manager Nicholas Rodriguez; City Attorney Michele Bagneris; Management Analyst IV Guille Nuñez, and “other unknown persons working on behalf of the City of Pasadena.”

Berman’s letter makes clear one of the claims was rejected by the City on Aug. 23 and another went unanswered. A City official confirmed “a letter of rejection was sent out dated August 23, 2019.”

At the same time, Berman said that the company’s July 15 request for appeal has yet to garner a response from City officials.

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