Cannabis Licensing Scandal Sweeps Pasadena, California

Some critics in Pasadena, California believe that local regulators violated their own rules when awarding six cannabis business licenses last year.

Full story after the jump.

Critics are asking if Pasadena, California violated their own procedures when they awarded six retail cannabis licenses last year, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

Modeling their application process after West Hollywood, Pasadena chose to have applications scored by “at least” three independent scorers. After each scorer reviewed the same application, scores would be totaled and averaged. Applications with the highest scores would be awarded the six coveted licensees. However, new documents show only one person signed each application, not three. Additionally, the PSN reports the scoring was not done independently. 

In emails obtained by the Pasadena Star-News, despite the city passing a clear ordinance outlining the selection process, when it came time to score the applications, the city hired HDL Companies, a California cannabis and tax consulting firm, in order to “streamline the process.” In the final proposal, HDL said a “handful of employees” would grade the applications. These scores were then “reviewed,” and later signed, by the firm’s “marijuana compliance manager,” who was in contact with each team member during weekly conference calls, erasing any notion of scorer independence.

There are four lawsuits challenging the results of the application process and two city councilpersons have recently begun raising red flags about the city’s selection process.

“I can’t go to sleep with a good conscience about this process. There were supposed to be three scores, totaled and averaged. That’s the law. … Unless they can show me the three scores, everyone needs to be rescored properly.” — Councilman Tyron Hampton, to PSN

If the results are thrown out, Pasadena will have to re-do the selection process, further delaying the local implementation of the adult-use cannabis law California approved in 2016.

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