One of the unsuccessful applicants for one of the six highly coveted Pasadena cannabis licenses, 420 College Inc., is claiming that the City’s cannabis program could force people to sell cannabis illegally.
According to CEO and founder George Boyadjian, Pasadena has failed to create a pathway into the legalized industry for people who have been selling cannabis for years and instead created a process that only millionaires could compete in.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that wakes up in the morning saying, ‘Gee, you know, I want to go and break as many laws as I possibly can,’” Boyadjian said. “I don’t think there’s anyone out there like that. These folks are forced to do what they do because the City of Pasadena does not provide them with a pathway of switching over, including myself.”
Boyadjian will hold a seminar on Saturday at 420 College Office, 3500 E. Colorado Blvd., designed to teach people how to start up a cannabis business in California.
Critics claim that minorities that were arrested for selling marijuana are now being aced out as cannabis becomes a billion-dollar legal industry across the nation.
Last year, African-American lawmakers in New York said they would block a push to legalize recreational marijuana in New York unless people of color were guaranteed a share of the industry. They want to be assured that some of that money will go toward job training programs and that minority entrepreneurs will receive licenses to cultivate or sell marijuana.
According to Boyadjian, Pasadena’s cannabis regulations are some of the toughest he’s seen so he’s teaching people to open and operate cannabis operations in other cities.
To enter into the City’s process, 122 applicants each paid a $14,000 application fee, including Boyadjian, who applied under the name Pasadena Greenhouse.
City officials say the money was used to review and process the applicants and hire a third-party consultant to assist in the process.
Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian said the city would not comment regarding how applicants perceived the process, but said the costs and documentation requested were laid out from the beginning of the city’s process.
“The initial screening application was structured to ensure that the top-scoring candidates be technically experienced to meet the demands of this highly regulated industry; well capitalized to be able to deliver on commitments after a demanding land use planning process and costly site acquisition and improvements; in a position to design a dispensary that blends with the neighborhood and meets Pasadena’s strict security and safety expectations; able to hire and train sufficient staff to operate in a professional manner, and, importantly, committed to a community benefits plan that provides tangible benefits and contributions to the community,” Derderian said.
Current city regulations only allow for up to six dispensaries, one per Council district. Although currently only three or four could set up shop Pasadena according to city maps and the city’s ordinance which has established distance limitations from schools, libraries and churches.
So far, only one dispensary, Harvest of Pasadena, has received a conditional use permit. Two others have filed lawsuits against the City.
“An average guy has absolutely no chance,” said Boyadjian. “He doesn’t have a snowball chance in hell on getting this permit.”
“And so what [is] the other guy supposed to do? In retrospect, it kind of looks like the war on drugs… The City of Pasadena and most of the jurisdictions in California are kind of continuing the war on drugs and it’s not necessarily color-based like it was before, now it’s more of a economic warfare towards people who can afford it and who can’t. So the rich boys, the millionaires, get to play this game of, of legal cannabis.”