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    Huntington Beach council majority signals won’t move fast toward cannabis sales
    • October 6, 2023

    The City Council tapped the brakes on Huntington Beach moving toward cannabis sales.

    The council’s majority has rejected a $325,000 grant from the state’s Department of Cannabis Control, which would have funded expenses related to implementing a cannabis retailer licensing program. The 3-to-4 decision signals that councilmembers aren’t giving the idea blanket support.

    The council’s rejection comes months after Huntington Beach voters approved taxing possible future revenue from cannabis sales.

    Councilmembers Gracey Van Der Mark and Casey McKeon both said they want Huntington Beach residents to vote if they want cannabis sales in the city before taking any further steps for implementation. The council also voted to dissolve a cannabis ad-hoc committee.

    “I feel we are just slowly, nose under the tent, trying to chip away at this,” McKeon said. “If we want to ask the voters if we should allow cannabis sales, let’s do that.”

    Last November, Huntington Beach voters approved Measure O, which would allow the city to tax cannabis businesses if they ever became permitted. Measure O estimated the city could make between $300,000 and $600,000 a year in tax revenue to fund municipal services. It was approved with 54% of the vote.

    Councilmember Dan Kalmick, who supported accepting the grant, said Huntington Beach is well down the path toward investigating if cannabis sales should be allowed and the tax revenue could shore up the city’s budget.

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    About 53% of Huntington Beach voters in 2016 voted for Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana use in the state. Huntington Beach has gone so far as to create a draft ordinance last year, which would allow up to 10 retail cannabis stores in the city.

    Few Orange County cities allow cannabis sales currently. Costa Mesa, Stanton and Santa Ana allow retail cannabis storefronts in their cities. Twenty-eight other cities in the county and unincorporated areas ban all cannabis business types.

    ​ Orange County Register