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City Committee Recommends Loosening Cannabis Shop Restrictions

If approved by council, previously losing retail applicant may make active licensing list

Published on Friday, July 16, 2021 | 5:40 am

The City Council’s Economic Development and Technology Committee unanimously voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council loosen some of the City’s strict cannabis regulations.

The recommendation could mean that applicant Brick & Rose, Inc., could be moved onto the active list of permitted dispensaries. Brick & Rose finished 7th in the application process. Current regulations only allowed six retailers within the City limits.

Vice-mayor Andy Wilson introduced the motion to recommend removing the limitation on how many dispensaries can be allowed in a Council district, as well as reducing the current distance between shops to 450 feet, down from 1,000 feet.

The motion also called for City staff to return to the Committee in 18 months with a social equity strategy to “add additional operators at a number to be determined, and a process to be established.”

According to Planning Director David Reyes,

Pasadena has some of the strictest licensing regulations and distancing requirements in the state, according to Planning Director David Reyes.

The Committee staff report also pointed out that the City Council had already considered amendments to the City’s cannabis regulations, but asked the Economic Development and Technology Committee to separately examine the matter in detail.

The Committee received a report in late May, and directed staff to return with a discussion of three key issues: that two of the City’s selected candidates to operate a dispensary will likely not be able to find a code compliant location under existing rules; and that since one of the six top scoring applicants was disqualified, the 7th ranked candidate may be allowed to move up to qualified , but added, if regulations are not loosened, it would “likely be a pointless exercise.”

The Council also asked the Committee to consider a cannabis equity program. A cannabis equity program would allow a number of minority candidates to be licensed, including those who might have been the victim of ‘War on Drugs” laws.

Wilson suggested that with one dispensary—Med Men—be disqualified, and SweetFlower and Harvest unable to be processed due to a lack of a location, that City Manager Steve Mermell may move up a new candidate to the list of active licensees.

As the Committee staff report pointed out, “It is worth noting that, out of a possible 1,575 total points, only a single point separated applicants 6 and 7:

The Brick and Rose, the 7th ranked applicant, scored 1,458 points in its licensing application.

“Since MedMen was disqualified from the process,” said the report, “the 7th ranked applicant could be allowed to apply for a permit.”

But the report also pointed out, however, that moving an application up the list could only be accomplished by reducing the distance separation requirements first, as the Committee eventually recommended.

The matter will return to the full city council on August 2.

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