CA: Pasadena Voters Appear To Support Marijuana Dispensaries In City

Photo Credit: Dan Watson

As Pasadena voters headed to the polls Tuesday, they had four local measures to decide, evenly split between election schedules and marijuana sales in the city. As the votes rolled in, all four measures appeared to have strong support.

Measure CC, which would lift the city’s current ban on marijuana dispensaries, has been the most hotly debated of them all.

The push to lift the ban began with a citizen-led effort to get a measure on the November ballot. That proposed measure would have allowed dispensaries that are currently operating illegally to have a shot at legal permits — an idea of which City Council was not too fond.

Although the council would have preferred more time to work on a plan to legalize dispensaries, members agreed in February to put Measure CC on the June ballot to preempt the citizens’ effort. A key piece of the measure Pasadenans considered Tuesday is that currently operating dispensaries would not be considered for the six legal permits the ordinance would allow.

Local groups who believe the city’s proposal is too restrictive took separate paths in terms of how they encourage those of like minds to vote.

Shaun Szameit, president of the Golden State Collective — one of the currently operating dispensaries that Measure CC would prevent from obtaining a permit — reluctantly endorsed the measure.

Szameit said in a phone interview that because the measure allows for future changes to the ordinance, he encouraged voters to approve it and push council members to allow dispensaries like his to legally operate.

“The council does have the ability to amend it,” he said. “I feel that, if we pass it, then we can get together and basically explain to the council what we feel needs to be amended.”

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative and Government Affairs Committee — which also sees the measure as unnecessarily prohibitive — endorsed a “no” vote.

The other weed-related item, Measure DD, would tax marijuana businesses should Measure CC pass. Both the Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative and Government Affairs Committee and Szameit support DD, although Szameit said he believes the city could get voter approval for an even higher tax than the proposed 6 percent for retail businesses and 4 percent for all other cannabis businesses.

As far as the election date items go, both Measures AA and BB are intended to comply with a state law that requires local elections to be held on statewide election dates. Measure AA would move City Council’s election dates to coincide with the state’s primary and general election dates, thereby extending current members’ terms by 19 months.

Measure BB would move elections for Pasadena Unified’s school board to concur with statewide general elections, and current members’ terms would also be extended by 19 months. The measure would also change school board elections to be based on plurality voting, meaning there would be no primary; the person with the most votes — whether or not the candidate breaks the 50 percent threshold — would win.