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City Approves Commercial Permit Applications For Two Cannabis Dispensaries

Varda, Integral advance in local approval process

Published on Monday, October 5, 2020 | 9:22 am

Two companies have received commercial cannabis permits from the city.

Varda Inc. and Integral Associates Dena LLC were notified that their respective applications were approved on Sept. 14.

According to a letter signed by City Manager Steve Mermell, each business must: operate in compliance with state and local rules and procedures; maintain the operation and management of the business in the place specified on the initial application; maintain a security plan approved by the Pasadena Police Department; maintain a valid health permit and business license. 

Mermell said the process has been “challenging.”

“The voters approved a very comprehensive set of regulations and requirements to guard against impacts on surrounding uses,” said Mermell. “We knew the process would be competitive and litigious because of the limited number of permits that can be approved and I want to congratulate these applicants on completing that process.” 

After making the cut in June 2019, both businesses successfully applied for a conditional use permit, as did a third cannabis operator, Harvest.

Three additional cannabis operators that made the city’s initial cut — Sweetflower, Atrium, and MedMen — were cut from the process for various reasons.

A number of operators have filed lawsuits against the city. 

According to Mermell, the applicants will need to obtain a building permit and get approval from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control before opening. 

After finding a qualified site, each applicant was required to obtain a conditional use permit from the City Council, a health permit and a business license from the city, and security clearance from the Police Department.

Both newly approved businesses plan to open up on East Colorado Boulevard. 

Applications for all three categories of commercial cannabis permits — retailers, testing laboratories, and cultivators — were accepted from Jan. 1, 2019 until Jan. 31, 2019. Of the 128 applications received, 122 applications were for the retailer category. 

Applications were reviewed by Hinderliter, de Llamas and Associates (HdL), an independent municipal consulting group offering cannabis consulting services. Applications were scored by HdL according to the city of Pasadena Commercial Cannabis Permit Application Review Criteria, which consists of four primary categories with a total of 28 specific sub-criteria. 

On June 5, 2019, the six top-scoring retail applicants were notified that they could submit applications.  

Several months ago, the city launched a probe into the six applicants chosen to open retail stores after it was discovered that at least seven officials at MME Retail, also known as MedMen, had left the company, which led to a change of control.

In the approval process, applicants were scored on experience, cannabis industry knowledge, and ownership team criteria.

Cannabis operators were required to not make any material changes to the management team listed on the application. Varda, Integral, and Harvest were cleared in the investigation, but MedMen was kicked out of the city’s process.

Mermell said Varda and Integral could be doing business soon.

“Each applicant will move at their own pace, but it is possible that these businesses may be open before the end of the year,” he said.

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