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Council to Consider Changing Cannabis Ordinance

Amendments to the law would allow more than one dispensary per council district

Published on Monday, April 5, 2021 | 5:00 am

[UPDATED] The City Council is considering a plan that would allow more than one cannabis dispensary in each of the council’s seven districts.

According to a public hearing notice, the City Council on April 12 will vote to amend its cannabis law to decrease distance requirements between cannabis dispensaries from 1,000 feet to 450 feet.

The amendment would not change the six-dispensary limit approved by the voters in Measure CC. 

“It clearly is the opposite of all of the distance separation arguments made by the city in favor of Measure CC to assure residents on how they were taking a cautious approach to protect neighborhoods,” said local attorney Richard McDonald. 

In 2019, the City Council shot down an effort to amend the city’s cannabis ordinance when it tabled a motion that would have changed the law to allow up to three dispensaries to operate in each of the city’s council districts.

Local residents opposed amendments to the ordinance back then with 41 letters opposing the changes and one letter in support of the amendments proposed by City Manager Steve Mermell.

“I strongly oppose the proposed zoning code amendments to the city cannabis regulations,” said Jane Laudeman in a letter to the council. “Pasadenans voted to allow one dispensary per district.”

During that hearing, several council members expressed concern that changing the ordinance would go against the will of the voters.

Measure CC, which allows up to six dispensaries to operate in Pasadena, passed with 63 percent of the vote in 2018. The ordinance also allowed the council to retain the authority to amend existing ordinances and adopt future ordinances regarding commercial cannabis business activities.

Measure DD approved a tax structure for cannabis sales. But city maps later revealed that only three would be able to open in Pasadena due to current distance requirements that prohibit dispensaries from operating too close to schools, libraries, churches, and residential neighborhoods. 

More than 100 cannabis operators applied for the chance to sell marijuana in Pasadena.

In the end, the city chose six dispensaries — Tony Fong, Harvest, Integral, Sweetflower, Atrium and MedMen — to move forward in the city’s selection process.

So far, only Tony Fong and Integral have received approval to open.

Sweetflower, Atrium and MedMen did not receive a required conditional use permit (CUP) to operate and were removed from the process. 

All three of those companies filed lawsuits against the city. 

High Times magazine purchased many of Harvest California operations. It was not known if the Pasadena location was included in that purchase.

Last month, a judge ruled against Sweetflower’s claims that  Pasadena’s permitting process was unfair and illegal. Atrium dropped its lawsuit last year.

An additional lawsuit by a company that did not make the cut was also dropped in February.

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