Montebello’s plan to welcome marijuana businesses to town is not exactly on a fast track. In fact, applications from would-be entrepreneurs were due three months ago, and city officials have only concluded a cursory first round of review.

Since the City Council voted in February to allow commercial indoor cultivation, manufacturing and testing of marijuana, the first of three review steps was moving so slowly, the city hired a second contractor to speed the process.

But in doing so, City Manager Andrew Pasmant took some heat from marijuana opponents.

At last week’s meeting, Councilman Bill Molinari questioned why Pasmant hired Los Angeles-based Tierra West Advisors when the City Council had selected Diamond Bar-based HdL Companies in June to do that job.

“This process is totally inappropriate and possibly illegal,” Molinari said. “What happened to the (company) we awarded the (contract) to?” he asked.

Pasmant said he was trying to get the process moving, considering applications were due April 18 and the first round of review was plodding along. HdL will handle the next rounds of work, he added.

Chris Cardinale, assistant city attorney, said Pasmant has authority to award contracts as long as they total less than $20,000.

Even after the first review round, only two applicants have been eliminated, and that’s because they didn’t pay the required $900 fee. Three dozen applicants remain, city officials said.

The second phase, which will include background checks and verification of locations the applicants control, is under way, Mayor Vanessa Delgado said.

Although Tierra Advisors ranked the 38 applicants into four tiers, the council elected to let them all go to the second round of review.

“I believe we should move forward with more applicants than not,” Delgado said. “This process will have attrition.”

The city released the names of the companies but without addresses or phone numbers. Only four of the 38 didn’t identify a future operating location.