The Pasadena City Council voted unanimously Monday to declare a fiscal emergency in order to call a special election that would allow the imposition of a tax on marijuana sales.
The measure would allow for six cannabis retailers to operate in the city at once, with one location allowed in each council district. It would also allow four testing labs and four growing facilities.
If the city does not declare a fiscal emergency, voters could not vote on taxation of cannabis until the next general election in fall 2020, according to the city’s staff report.
“Proposition 218 requires new and increased taxes and extensions of taxes to be voted on only at a regular general election of the city at which members of the City Council are elected, unless the City Council adopts a finding of emergency by a unanimous vote of the council members present. Only in that case, the tax can be voted on at a special election,” according to the report.
City officials have said the ordinance became necessary after cannabis proponents unsuccessfully attempted to place their own measure on the June ballot in response to a city ordinance that only allowed for the delivery of medical marijuana.
City Manager Steve Mermell advised the council that if proponents had been successful, they could have forced the city’s hand on land use and zoning issues regarding pot dispensaries, which could have resulted in many more weed-selling operations.
“Amending the city’s rules to allow the unrestricted or very limited regulation of commercial cannabis activities may result in negative impacts citywide,” said Mermell. “While the state marijuana laws give each jurisdiction the right to regulate these uses as each sees fit, the recent actions by proponents of commercial cannabis activity could effectively remove the city’s ability to determine its land use regulations.”
However, the new proposed ordinance would reel in dispensaries and allow the city to maintain control. If passed, cannabis sellers would find themselves tied to a list of conditions limiting where and how they can operate. Outlets will not be allowed to operate within 300 feet of a residential zone, 600 feet of a park, school, church, childcare center, library, substance abuse center or library.