Cannabis Retailer Asks City Commission for Permission Needed to Open – Pasadena Now
The Planning Commission will consider an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that would bring another cannabis dispensary closer to opening.
According to a Planning Commission staff report, SweetFlower Pasadena wants to locate in District 3 on East Colorado Boulevard near Hudson and Lake Avenue.
The committee meets Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
The 3,200 square foot building at 827 E. Colorado Boulevard features two units, one of which is currently occupied by the Subway restaurant.
If the CUP is approved, SweetFlower will be the second authorized commercial cannabis retailer in District 3 of the council.
The first was Harvest, which currently does business in District 3.
The location is also close to another cannabis retailer, Essence, which also does business on Colorado Boulevard, but far enough away to avoid violating the distancing requirement.
“SweetFlower’s proposed location is 471 feet from Essence, which exceeds the minimum distance requirement of 450 feet,” according to a city staff report.
Last year, a divided city council voted to change its cannabis ordinance to allow three cannabis operators to do business in District 3, despite protests from Councilman John Kennedy, who represents that district.
The new regulations reduced the required distance between retailers from 1,000 feet to 450 feet.
In December, attorneys for Essence and Harvest filed a lawsuit against the city over amendments to the city’s cannabis ordinance allowing more than one dispensary per council district.
In 2018, 63% of voters approved the CC measure, which allows a maximum of six dispensaries, one per district, and requires each store to keep distance from other dispensaries as well as churches, schools, libraries and parks.
According to the lawsuit filed by attorneys representing Integral Associates and Harvest of Pasadena in approving the zoning code amendment; the unlimited and carte blanche granting by the City of the right to modify the CC measure is an unconstitutional usurpation of the power of popular initiative by the City; and (3) the express wording of the voter-approved CC measure directly conflicts with granting the City unlimited amending power to itself.
“The zoning code amendment is in flagrant disregard of the will and intent of the voters who passed the CC measure. Measure CC repealed the city’s ban on commercial cannabis activity. It also limited the number of commercial cannabis businesses to six retailers. Additionally, the CC measure allowed only one dispensary per council district and required a minimum of 1,000 feet between cannabis retailers. The zoning code amendment alters the substantive provisions of Measure CC, a voter-approved initiative ordinance.
The CC measure also gave the city council the power to change the ordinance without voter consent.
The city chose six dispensaries in 2019 with Integral, Atrium, Sweetflower, Medmen, Harvest and Tony Fong selected to move forward in the process.
The city’s process has been fraught with pitfalls.
Atrium, MedMen, and Sweetflower unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city after they weren’t allowed to move forward in the approval process.
Despite the struggle to sell cannabis in Pasadena, legalized cannabis has not been the boon many expected.
According to MJBizdaily, which has been reporting on cannabis since 2011, California grew 57.5% from 2019 to 2020. Since then, adult-use sales growth in the state has dropped to 19.2%. until October 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. .
Month-over-month growth was also abysmal, with only March and July showing increases, very likely signs of strong holiday sales leading up to 4/20 and Independence Day.
In December, cannabis industry executives warned of impending disaster and collapse if they did not benefit from immediate tax cuts and rapid expansion of retail outlets.
The heavily taxed and regulated industry is seemingly unable to compete with the continued illegal sale of marijuana which offers consumers much lower prices.
According to the letter, street sales of illegal marijuana are double or triple the legal turnover.
These illegal sales are now being spurred by relaxed penalties in the name of racial justice.
African Americans and Latinos have borne the brunt of law enforcement actions for cannabis-related activities for decades and now, in many communities, are denied the economic benefits of legal cannabis sales.
Pasadena currently does not have a local social equity program.
“The opportunity to create a robust legal market has been squandered due to excessive taxation,” the letter states. “Seventy-five percent of cannabis in California is consumed in the illicit market and is untested and unsafe.”