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Two Local Marijuana Dispensaries Cleared in City Probe

Harvest, Varda can continue in city process towards opening legal retail dispensaries

Published on Monday, July 6, 2020 | 2:53 am

[UPDATED] On the same day that city officials notified one cannabis dispensary that it could be removed from the city’s retail process, two other dispensaries were cleared.

Last week, Pasadena Now reported that city officials found that an investigation revealed personnel changes in MME Retail, also known as MedMen, led to a change of control in the company that could result in the denial of a Cannabis Retail Permit and disqualification from the city’s process.

That same investigation revealed no issues with Harvest Pasadena and Varda.

The cannabis companies received notices on July 1 informing them they had been cleared in the review.

“The purpose of this letter is to advise you that the city of Pasadena has cleared its review and the city manager finds that there has not been a change of control,” the July 1 letter signed by Assistant City Manager Nicholas Rodriguez states.

The city requested all six applicants chosen to open retail stores submit materials for city review after it discovered at least seven officials at MME Retail, also known as MedMen, had left the company, which led to a change of control.

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

“It was made clear during the process that the evaluation and final interview was to be of the actual team to be working in Pasadena,” a letter to MME Retail states.

So far, the city has not released a letter clearing Integral Dena, which also faced similar allegations as the ones named against MME Retail.

“Integral will not provide comments to the issues raised in this letter as they relate to currently pending litigation,” Richard McDonald, an attorney representing Integral, said last week when contacted by Pasadena Now.

The nature of that lawsuit is unknown. City officials will not discuss potential litigation.

So far only Integral and Harvest have received Conditional Use Permits (CUP) in the city’s process. No applicant has received a local Cannabis Retail Permit.

Atrium and Sweet Flower two other companies chosen in the city’s process were denied CUPs. Sweet Flower CEO Tim Dodd has written at least two letters to the city with allegations against MME Retail and Varda that led to the probe.

After receiving a letter in April, scheduled CUP hearings before the Planning Commission for both companies were canceled and so far have not been rescheduled.

So far, city officials would not reveal if another dispensary would be allowed into the process if MME Retail is removed from the process.

Dodd did not respond to an email from Pasadena Now asking how the city should proceed if MME Retail is eliminated from the process.

If MME is removed from the process, the company will have lost $14,000 in non-refundable application fees. According to a rental agreement, the company was also required to pay $250,000 to the master tenant at 536 S. Fair Oaks Ave. where the company planned to do business and $50,000 a month as of March 31 when the lease went into effect.

If all fees were paid, MME would lose more than $400,000 before ever selling any weed in Pasadena at a time when the company is already facing massive revenue issues.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, in February the company reported $96.4 million in losses in the second fiscal quarter of 2020.

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