Breakdown of Pasadena’s Cannabis Licensing Process

The city of Pasadena took an important step when it comes to the regulation of cannabis within the city limits. On November 13, 2018, they held their Commercial Cannabis Application Workshop.

During the workshop, all aspects of cannabis licensing and regulation were discussed. The city released the official application on December 14, 2018, solely through their website.

Now, it’s time to break down the cannabis licensing process in Pasadena. We’ll elaborate on all the key points and explain what you have to watch out for the most.


Officially, the city has decided to issue retail sale and delivery permits to all commercial cannabis enterprises. This decision is valid for all dispensaries and businesses, both medical and recreational.

An important detail to memorize is that the city will issue only six (6) permits for the time being. Those who manage to receive a permit can have their industrial and commercial facilities in the IG, CG, CD, CL and CO zones.

The following buffer zones and regulations will be in force:

  • A 600 ft. minimum distance from any institutions for children, parks, libraries, and substance abuse centers.
  • A 1000 ft. buffer for other cannabis growers and retailers.
  • A 15.000 square-feet limit for all facilities.
  • No smoking, ingesting or under-the-counter selling anywhere.
  • 7am-10pm work hours with mandatory buzz-in entrances, ventilation systems, and surveillance.


Unlike the five zones in which selling cannabis will be permitted, growers will be confined to only the CG and IG zones of the city. The same regulations and buffer zones are in force as cannabis retailers, with a few significant additions and changes:

  • There will be only four (4) cultivation permits, with only one (1) per council district.
  • A 30.000-square-feet limit for all cannabis cultivation facilities.
  • Any signs, logos, product advertisements related to cannabis are strictly forbidden on the outside of the cultivation facility.
  • Only indoor cultivation will be permitted, with mandatory ventilation, controlled odors and respect of all state, city and federal regulations.


The city also covered the subject of testing cannabis goods and products. As for the conditions – there will be four (4) permits issued within the city limits, with only one (1) per each council district.

Additionally, the laboratories have to be approved by an independent, non-government accrediting body.

There will also be strict check-ups for the proper disposal of non-complying cannabis batches while respecting federal and state regulations. All amounts of cannabis have to be required through legal means, with a precise tracing of the product’s origin.

Every testing laboratory has to comply with regular laboratory-related laws and the permits needed to work there.

Additionally, the city is yet to release the precise rules and regulations about the ventilation systems in testing facilities. What is currently known is that they will have to be much more advanced than the ones in dispensaries and growing facilities.

Timeline for Permit Acquisition

  • 14th December 2018 – notice of the 30-day period for sending applications
  • 1st of January – 31 January, 2019 – the initial application period
  • 1st February – 15th February – application review
  • 18th February – 31st March – final review and grading of every application
  • 15th April – the date when the top candidates will be notified of their status

What is yet to be determined is the process of obtaining a permit for land use, the official Pasadena business license, and the Californian official state cannabis license. A rough estimate indicates that the first cannabis retailers and growth facilities may be open by December next year.

How to Submit Applications

All application fees and submissions of forms will be done through the website of the city of Pasadena. There will be no bank involvement, and all payments will be done via PayPal. There are no rumors if the city is considering introducing Venmo and Apple Pay as other solutions.

How Should Your Application Look Like

If you decide to apply for one of the official cannabis-related permits, you will have to submit a three-part application. It is supposed to look like this:

  1. The information of the owner/application – has to include basic information about the owner and other people involved, with or without financial interests
  2. A cover letter of no more than three (3) pages, indicating a summary of the applicant’s intentions. Also, included should be the overview of the application with a bullet list of all the applications the person is applying for, as well as a short business concept
  3. A detailed business plan not longer than (50) pages, including images. It should consist of the following parts:
    • The business plan itself
    • A plan on how will the business be compatible with the part of town they will be in. This should include the design, concept, advertising plans, and job opportunities
    • A detailed security plan
    • All the qualifications of the owner and each of the licensed operators

Application Requirements

Every applicant has to follow the exact aforementioned specifications. Any straying from the recommended format will result in disqualification. No unnecessary information is to be included in any part of the application.

Concerning the size of the application, applicants should hand them in 11-point font and on an 8.5×11 in — sized document. Every section should be clearly labeled. The deadline is January 31, 2019. The time when an applicant submits all the documents does not influence his chances of being picked.

Screening Application Fees

Along with your submission, you are required to pay the following fees, depending on which permit you are applying for:

  • Retail – $10,639.00
  • Cultivation – $10,639.00
  • Testing – $10,639.00

These fees are not refundable. If you wish to apply for multiple permits, you have to pay the price for each one.

Other Key Information

  • If multiple applications are accepted, they are forbidden from being located on the same site and must comply with the prescribed buffer zones.
  • A single person can only list as an owner in one application for a permit.
  • The city has the right to change the rules before the process, during the process, and after the process, with a mandatory notification on the page.
  • If you have any questions, send them to Every single answer will be published on the website on January 1st when the application process begins.

Leave a Reply