Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary H. Strobel on Thursday granted the City of Pasadena’s request for a writ of mandate which orders the removal from the March 2020 ballot of a measure to legalize certain unlicensed marijuana shops in Pasadena.
The measure, called “An Initiative to Allow Operation of Cannabis Businesses That Previously Operated Illegally, In Violation of the Pasadena Municipal Code,” which had qualified for the ballot last month, could have allowed 18 unlicensed cannabis shops in Pasadena the right to bypass the City’s current ordinances and remain open. The measure could have been in effect for five years if passed by voters.
In her tentative decision, Judge Strobel said that the cannabis initiative “mandates actions that are administrative and adjudicative. Thus, it is an improper exercise of the initiative power.”
Asked about the tentative decision, Pasadena City Attorney Michelle Bagneris said, “Pre-election challenges are always an uphill battle. So there was uncertainty, but we had a very strong case.”
Pasadena had asked the court for the writ to prevent its own city clerk, Mark Jomsky, and Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for Los Angeles, from placing the proposed ballot measure on the upcoming ballot. The case moved quickly through the court system because of an impending printing deadline of January 3 for the March 2020 municipal election ballots.
According to attorney Fredric Woocher, Pasadena raised two grounds in the case — the first was that the measure violated a specific provision in the California Constitution that prohibits naming or identifying private corporations to “perform any function or to have any power of duty.” In other words, the initiative would have given power or special treatment to a select group of businesses in the City, said attorney Woocher, who argued on behalf of the City of Pasadena.
The City also argued, said Woocher, that the subject was not appropriate for an initiative, because “an initiative is only permissible with respect to legislative matters, and not an adjudicative matter.”
Published: December 13, 2019
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