Opinion – Shaun Szameit: Pasadena Needs a Cannabis Equity Program

Pasadena Now op-ed. Szameit obviously isn’t impressed.


Pasadena’s cannabis program is one of the worst public policy failures in the history of Pasadena, costing the community more than a thousand jobs and City Hall millions of dollars in unnecessary administrative and legal expenses and foregone tax revenue.

However, our system of government allows us to fix these problems.

Pasadena can create 1,300 full-time jobs before the end of the year

According to the Leafly Jobs Report 2021 (a cannabis industry economic report), legal cannabis now supports 57,970 full-time jobs in California. Despite a year marked by a global pandemic, causing unemployment and recession, California’s legal cannabis industry added 23,707 full-time jobs in 2020. That represents a 69% year-over-year job growth.

To put that in perspective: In California there are more legal cannabis workers than there are bank tellers. There are more than twice as many legal cannabis workers as electrical engineers. There are more than three times as many legal cannabis workers as EMTs and paramedics.

Cannabis sales in California in 2020 totaled $3,774,700,000. One full-time cannabis job is created for every $65,148 in legal cannabis sales.

Despite established reality, some in Pasadena continue to seek to make public policy based on their own uninformed knowledge and unreasonable fears of the cannabis industry.

There are 445 active on and off-site liquor licenses in Pasadena.  Places like Trader Joe’s, Ralphs or Von’s sell whiskey and vodka without issue.  Cannabis retail stores are monumentally more regulated and controlled.  Under state law a customer is blocked by security doors from entering the sales area unless they show ID to a security guard that they are at least 21 years old.  Unlike bars or restaurants, no consumption is allowed on premises.  Cannabis retail locations are safer and more secure than any bar, restaurant or grocery store selling liquor.

A fully implemented retail cannabis model in Pasadena with just 30 retail locations (a tiny fraction of the number of active liquor locations) would generate $90 million in sales and therefore create as many as 1,300 full-time jobs.

Given the explosive growth of the cannabis industry, if Pasadena fails to create these jobs and tax revenue Pasadena’s municipal neighbors will.

Troubling racial disparities exist in the cannabis industry.

 The life-shattering harms of the war on drugs largely fall on people of color, especially Black Americans. Unfortunately, Pasadena’s cannabis legalization scheme failed to provide these communities with any degree of equity.

Read more. https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/guest-opinion-shaun-szameit-pasadena-needs-a-cannabis-equity-program/


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