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City to Investigate Allegations Against Two Cannabis Dispensaries

Planning Commission will not vote on CUP for Varda and MME Retail Pasadena today

Published on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 | 5:51 am

[Updated] Pasadena Now has learned that city officials have decided to further investigate two cannabis dispensaries that are scheduled to appear before the Planning Commission later today.

The commission was scheduled to vote on Conditional Use Permits on Varda Inc. and MME Pasadena Retail (MedMen) at today’s 3 pm telephonic meeting, but shortly after 4:30 p.m. Tuesday Tim Dodd, CEO of Sweet Flower LLC sent a letter to Pasadena Now, the City Council, Mayor Terry Tornek and the Planning Commission detailing issues inside MadMen.

Pasadena Now sent a copy to city officials for comment after receiving the letter.

“The letter from Mr. Timothy Dodd addressed to the Planning Commission and received late this afternoon raises questions which need further investigation and verification that cannot be completed prior to tomorrow’s scheduled Planning Commission Meeting,” wrote Planning Director David Reyes. “While the letter specifically raises issues with the MedMen application, there may be issues that are germane to Varda’s application as well. To ensure that the City is processing these applications consistent with all applicable rules and regulations, we will be continuing both applications until the allegations outlined in the letter can be fully scrutinized.”

The letter paints a picture of MedMen as a struggling company that is no longer in line with the company that won the right to apply for a CUP.

Some experts claim a CUP to sell in Pasadena is worth millions of dollars.

“MedMen’s deteriorating financial performance, layoffs, failed transactions and asset sales are also well-documented, painting a far different picture of MedMen’s true financial outlook than was indicated to the city of Pasadena,” Dodd wrote.

According to the letter, five senior officers with the company during the application process listed as “owners” in the company have left. Two additional officers that later joined have also left.

“Of the five individuals who attended the Selection Committee interview for MedMen, we understand only one now remains at MedMen,” the letter states.

According to the letter, “MedMen was ostensibly selected as a “top six” applicant on the basis of the qualifications.of these original ‘owners,’ the letter states. “Since then, almost all of these ‘owners’ have resigned from or been severed by MedMen.

The letter does not detail issues in Varda.

The letter also makes claims about Harvest of Pasadena which has already received Conditional Use Permits.

MME Pasadena Retail Inc, and Varda (Tony Fong) won the right to move forward in the city’s process along with Harvest, Integral Associated Dena, Atrium and Sweetflower in June.

After the process, the owner of a dispensary that did not advance began questioning the process, but then the winners began making allegations as they were denied CUPs.

“When Sweet Flower applied for a cannabis license in Pasadena, we were excited to work with a city whose values include honesty and integrity, accountability, open, clear and frequent communication, and diversity and inclusiveness, as these values very much reflect Sweet Flower’s.

“Our experience since being chosen as one of the top six applicants, however, has been that the city’s actions fail

to reflect these values. Rather, the city of Pasadena has acted arbitrarily and capriciously, unfairly and selectively favoring

certain applicants over others, and has displayed a lack of administrative diligence and responsible process management,” Dodd wrote.

After Pasadena Now sent the letter to Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton for comment, Hampton once again called on the city to restart the process.

At least two councilmen have questioned the city’s process. On Tuesday, Vice Mayor Tyron Hampton said he believed the city’s process has been unfair.

“Applicants were illegally scored,” Hampton said. “And this gave no real opportunities for locals. According to staff, one element of scoring was a background check, which included verifying the applicant was who they said they were. Because of the significant changes, these applicants should have been rescored.”
Hampton called on District Attorney Jackie Lacey to open an investigation into the process.

“It is required by law and was voted on by the voters of Pasadena. Applicants were required to have a minimum of three scores that needed to be totaled and averaged. That never happened. Therefore, this process was illegal. Everything should be thrown out and the process should be restarted.”

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