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Council to Continue Hearing on Zoning Code Amendments to Cannabis Ordinance

Item could come back on April 19

Published on Monday, April 12, 2021 | 5:00 am

A public hearing on proposed changes to the city’s cannabis ordinance could be postponed for a week.

According to the City Council agenda, city staff is recommending the council continue the hearing until April 19.

No reason was given for the proposed delay, and a staff report is not included in the agenda. 

The amendments would allow more than one cannabis dispensary in each of the council’s seven districts and decrease distance requirements between dispensaries from the voter-approved 1,000 feet to 450 feet.

The amendment would not change the six-dispensary limit approved by the voters in Measure CC, and could allow dispensaries that unsuccessfully sued the city back into the process. 

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. 

This is the second time the item has come before the City Council. 

In 2019, the council shot down an effort to amend the 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.

At that meeting, the mayor and council were asked to revisit the discussion on the city’s cannabis regulations once three cannabis retailers are operational so that staff could evaluate the impacts on the city and the cannabis market. 

“It has been almost three years since Pasadena voters legalized cannabis retail & operations in the City,” said Vice Mayor Andy Wilson.  “I think now is a good time to check in to see where various projects stand, and if the regulatory framework is accomplishing what was intended.  It is within that context that we can determine if adjustments are appropriate.”  

During that hearing, several council members expressed concern that changing the ordinance would go against the will of the voters and 41 people sent correspondence opposing the change. 

“Pasadenans voted to allow one dispensary per district and 1,000ft distance,” wrote Maria Katsas in 2019. “I also do not agree that dispensaries should be in Old Pasadena where kids and teens can be unsupervised and enjoy independence. Pasadena must remain accessible, neighborly, have a strong sense of place, have a strong sense of community spirit, family oriented and allow healthy interaction between residents.”

More than 100 cannabis operators applied for the chance to sell marijuana in Pasadena in 2019.

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 is not known if the Pasadena location was included in that purchase.

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