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Cannabis Retailer Asks City Commission for Permit Needed to Open

Published on Monday, January 10, 2022 | 5:00 am

The Planning Commission will consider a request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that would move another cannabis dispensary one step closer to opening.

According to a Planning Commission staff report, SweetFlower Pasadena wants to set up shop in District 3 on East Colorado Boulevard near Hudson and Lake Avenue.

The commission meets at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The 3,200 square foot building at 827 E. Colorado Boulevard contains two units, one of which is currently occupied by Subway restaurant.

If the CUP is approved, SweetFlower will be the second commercial cannabis retailer permitted in Council District 3.

The first was Harvest, which is currently doing business in District 3.

The location is also close to another cannabis retailer, Essence, which is also doing business on Colorado Boulevard, but far enough to steer clear of violating the distance requirement.

“SweetFlower’s proposed location is 471 feet from Essence, which exceeds the minimum 450 foot distance requirement,” according to a city staff report.

A split City Council voted to amend its cannabis ordinance last year to allow up to three cannabis operators to do business in District 3, despite the protests of Councilman John Kennedy, who represents that district.

The new regulations decreased the required distance between retailers from 1,000 feet to 450 feet.

In December, lawyers for Essence and Harvest filed a lawsuit against the city over amendments to the city’s cannabis ordinance allowing more than one dispensary per council district.

In 2018, 63% of voters approved Measure CC, which allows a maximum of six dispensaries, one per district, and requires each shop to maintain a distance from other dispensaries as well as from churches, schools, libraries and parks.

According to the lawsuit filed by lawyers representing Integral Associates and Harvest of Pasadena by approving the Zoning code amendment; the City’s unlimited and carte blanche grant to itself of the right to amend Measure CC is an unconstitutional usurpation of the people’s initiative power by the City; and (3) the express language of ballot Measure CC approved by the voters directly conflicts with the City’s grant of unlimited amending power to itself.

“The zoning code amendment is in flagrant disregard of the will and intent of the voters who passed Measure CC. Measure CC repealed the City’s ban on commercial cannabis activity. It also limited the number of commercial cannabis businesses to six retailers. Furthermore, Measure CC only allowed one dispensary per council district, and required a minimum of 1,000 feet between cannabis retailers. The zoning code amendment alters the substantive provisions of Measure CC, an initiative ordinance approved by the voters.”

Measure CC also gave the City Council the authority to amend the ordinance without voter consent.

The city chose six dispensaries in 2019 with Integral, Atrium, Sweetflower, Medmen, Harvest, and Tony Fong selected to move forward in the process.

The city’s process has been fraught with lawsuits.

Atrium, MedMen and Sweetflower unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city after they were not allowed to advance in the approval process.

Despite the fight to sell cannabis in Pasadena, legalized cannabis has not been the boon that many expected.

According to MJBizdaily, which has been reporting on Cannabis since 2011, California experienced a 57.5% growth from 2019 to 2020. Since then, adult-use sales growth in the state has slipped to 19.2% through October 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Month-over-month growth also has been abysmal, with only March and July showing increases, most likely signs of good holiday sales leading into 4/20 and Independence Day.

In December, leaders in the cannabis indiusry warned of impending doom and collapse if they were not awarded immediate tax cuts and a rapid expansion of retail outlets.

The heavily taxed and regulated industry is apparently unable to compete with the continued illegal sale of marijuana which offers consumers far lower prices.

According to the letter, street sales of illegal marijuana are double or triple the legal business.

Those illegal sales are now spurred on by relaxed penalties in the name of racial justice.

African Americans and Latinos bore the brunt of law enforcement actions for cannabis activities for decades and now in many communities they are being aced out of the economic advantages from selling cannabis legally.

Pasadena currently has no local social equity program.

“The opportunity to create a robust legal market has been squandered as a result of excessive taxation,” the letter said. “Seventy-five percent of cannabis in California is consumed in the illicit market and is untested and unsafe.”

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