More than 20 community activists, would-be entrepreneurs and licensed cannabis dealers participated Thursday in an online conference, “Cannabis Business & Community Reinvestment: A Conversation,” designed to generate ideas and opportunities for small businesses and the community to join or benefit from Pasadena’s limited but lucrative cannabis market.
The meeting also discussed the best ways for existing cannabis sellers in Pasadena to give back a portion of their investment and profits to the local community that supports them.
The wide-ranging discussion was moderated by Jessica Neuwirth and Clarissa Lliff of BOTEC Analysis, hired by the City of Pasadena to moderate the discussion.
As Lliff told the group, community reinvestment is also about social equity.
“The goal of social equity,” Lliff said, “is to ensure that people in communities disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition and discriminatory law enforcement benefit from cannabis legalization.”
Lliff added that Pasadena requires local cannabis businesses to commit to investing in impacting communities here in Pasadena, and that “this includes improving education or youth development programs and preventing violence, and can often look like volunteering, donating, sponsoring non-profit events here in Pasadena.
“Often when we think of community investment affecting individuals,” she continued, “individuals who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs, we often think we stop at the individual who was arrested and let’s forget the ripples it is making in our communities.. This individual is so important and we should be focusing on that.
Lliff then posed the question to attendees, “How should the Pasadena Cannabis Company contribute to the community?”
As “Raul” noted, his choice was for the city to provide a space for community engagement (for vendors), as a type of business resource fair where vendors could meet cannabis store owners.
“I think the way to be able to normalize something like this,” he said, “is through socializing, having people meet. And honestly, if anybody can take that idea and run with it, but you have food festivals, maybe have something like this, where vendors can come and small business owners from the cannabis industry, and bring in food trucks and do some kind of event like that “
Specifically, “”Gina” proposed that two organizations that would directly benefit from contributions from cannabis stores would be Day One and the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition.
She added: “Our streets are not safe. I think at the end of last year a woman was hit by a car and sadly passed away. And so I believe these organizations tried to lobby the city for some of that funding to work on this. She added that she had spoken to the executive director of Complete Streets who pointed out that “the streets of Pasadena are not safe for Pasadena residents, especially young people who walk to school.”
Additionally, she named Day One, a 30-year-old community-based nonprofit organization working on “culturally sensitive” public health education, intervention, and policy development issues in the Valley. of San Gabriel.
Another participant suggested a program similar to a program in Miami known as the Children’s Trust, but in which local businesses “tax” themselves to provide money to a fund that supports micro-grants. for community organizations that support children’s programs. (In Miami’s Children’s Trust, funds are raised differently, through a voter-approved property tax.)
Other participants called for local growers to have priority or some type of “favored nation” agreement in which local cannabis stores would agree to purchase cannabis products from Pasadena growers as part of their inventory of sale in progress.
Tim Dodd of SweetFlower, one of the few licensed cannabis stores in Pasadena, said he agreed with all of the suggestions offered and noted that “I think there’s a distinction to be made between commercial cannabis operators, such as Essence, Harvest, SweetFlower and Varda, and other stores.
“I think it’s incumbent on people like us to help out,” Dodd added. “I think that means mentorship, entrepreneurship, money, taxpayers’ money and also some community investment programs that are meaningful.”
“I think you have to have strong safeguards,” he added. “You need community funding. The City of Pasadena needs to support these things with money, skills, and entrepreneurship.