Legal pot faces Pasadena hurdles

Legal pot faces Pasadena hurdles
legalized marijuana

Pot shops on Mentor Avenue specialize in medical marijuana. Despite the passage of Prop. 64, the state has issued no guidelines on legalized marijuana to communities like Pasadena.

Proposition 64 may have legalized marijuana all over California, but for the half-dozen unlicensed dispensaries in and around Pasadena, the future remains uncertain.

And that’s a big problem, said marijuana rights lawyer Michele Brooke.

Without legal regulation, unlicensed dispensaries are effectively black markets. Unlicensed marijuana could have little medicinal value, and could actually make some conditions worse, due to pesticide use.

“There’s good people who want to be involved in this,” Brooke said. “Although there’s a huge demand in Pasadena, the city has not been progressive about opening up dispensaries.”

The Crown City has spent years combating medical marijuana, even taking some businesses to court in 2015 and winning. Pot shops like Golden State Collective on Mentor Avenue appealed the lawsuit and remain open, sans licenses and regulation. First time patients are required to bring a doctor’s recommendation and their ID or driver’s license.

No member of City Council returned calls for comment for this story.

Pasadena Director of Public Health Michael Johnson said state officials haven’t issued guidance on how municipal governments should address marijuana. The conversation hasn’t moved forward as a result.

“The Pasadena City Council has not taken action on changes to the municipal code which would allow any [marijuana-related] activities,” Johnson said.

However, Johnson said that his department is prepared to tackle safe marijuana regulation, and has been tracking the issue closely. Such regulations could include regular testing of marijuana products, health code standards and even improved security measures, according to Brooke. Such regulations would stop illegal vendors in their tracks.

“It’s a public safety issue,” Brooke said. “There is nothing more dangerous than an illegal drug cartel, and that is exactly what Pasadena is propagating.”

— By Hugo Guzman, correspondent