Huntington Beach City Council contemplating cannabis tax, commercial legalization

OC Register report

This fall, Huntington Beach voters could be asked to decide, yet again, on the future of cannabis sales in their city.

Although a ballot measure in the primary elections failed last month, the City Council is continuing to consider potential measures to pose to voters in November that could legalize, tax, and regulate the commercial sale of cannabis.

Measure A, which was before voters in the June primary elections, would have created a special tax of up to 6% on the gross receipts of cannabis retailers. Non-retail cannabis businesses — such as testing labs and distributors — would have been taxed at no more than 1%.

But the measure received 64.58% support during the primary, just shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Earlier this week, the City Council voted 5-2 to support multiple actions reattempting to pass legal cannabis sales on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. It is also considering a proposal to allow and regulate both retail and non-retail cannabis businesses in the city.

The City Council, as of now, is considering asking voters if the city should “allow and regulate a limited number of retail and non-retail cannabis businesses for medical and recreational” purposes to operate in designated zones in Huntington Beach.

Some proposed regulations included permitting storefront and delivery-only retailers but prohibiting cannabis sales via vending machines, vehicles, or mobile stations. As the proposal now stands, retailers would need to be at least 1,000 feet from middle and high schools and at least 600 feet from elementary schools, parks, youth centers, and licensed commercial daycare centers.

The City Council is also considering asking voters if it should set taxes for cannabis businesses identical to those in the failed Measure A proposal. This new measure would need to be voted on by residents in November.

While the City Council worked on these regulations this week, the regulations are still open to community input, said Councilmember Dan Kalmick, noting that a town hall will soon be convened. Residents can email with feedback.

Council members will convene again on July 19 to discuss the proposed cannabis measures and vote on whether to actually place them on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

Both Mayor Pro Tempore Mike Posey and Councilman Erik Peterson opposed putting cannabis measures on the upcoming ballot, however. Posey said he is not in favor of new taxes or the “social cost” of cannabis use; Peterson said the council should not rush to revise regulations.

Both Peterson and Posey opposed placing Measure A on the primary ballot as well.

In the six years since California voters legalized marijuana use for adults 21 and over, only a few Orange County cities have approved dispensaries. Santa Ana became the first in 2017Costa Mesa voters chose to legalize cannabis sales there in 2020.

Huntington Beach City Council contemplating cannabis tax, commercial legalization

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