Hermosa Beach City Council votes to oppose cannabis initiative in November 8 ballot – Daily Breeze
The Hermosa Beach City Council voted unanimously this week to proclaim that it officially opposes the resident-led initiative in the Nov. 8 ballot that, if passed, would allow up to two dispensaries marijuana shops in the city.
City officials said it was important to send a strong signal to its residents that it is not in favor of cannabis retail. And, unlike nearby towns where competing city-sponsored cannabis measures are being considered by councils, Hermosa Beach likely won’t put a competing measure on the ballot.
Some council members were even against adding a cannabis business license tax initiative to the Nov. 8 ballot, fearing it would confuse voters and give the impression that Hermosa Beach is supporting cannabis sales.
Hermosa Beach was one of the first South Bay towns to ban commercial cannabis sales in 2017.
The Nov. 8 ballot measure, which the council certified in March, was the result of a citizens’ initiative filed by resident Colton Chacker, on behalf of Catalyst Cannabis Co. — a chain of dispensaries sponsoring similar initiatives in cities. seaside.
Council member Raymond Jackson called the citizens’ initiative a “hostile takeover by outsiders” who “only interested in making money.”
Jackson added that only looking at the issue through the prism of an initiative forces the board to only consider ballot box solutions.
“That’s not the way to conduct public policy,” Jackson said, “especially when it comes to wrestling with something so emotionally charged and nuanced.”
City Manager Suja Lowenthal said allowing commercial cannabis operations in the city would have serious negative impacts on law enforcement, city operations and our community character.
In addition to city council and city staff opposing the initiative, numerous residents participated in council meetings, the Beach Cities Health District, Hermosa Beach Police and a cannabis advisory group. formed in January.
City staff also recommended that council vote to place a measure on the November ballot to impose a business license tax on cannabis sales if the initiative is approved, but not all council members were disagree.
The board voted 3-2 for staff to prepare a tax ballot measure. But, according to City Attorney Mike Jenkins, when the issue comes back to council, it would need a 4-1 vote to be on the ballot.
Mayor Mike Detoy and Councilwoman Stacey Armato were the two noes.
Detoy and Armato said they were concerned that a city-sponsored tax measure could mislead voters into thinking the city was supporting cannabis sales.
“I guess they’re starting to advocate for this election measure using us as the reason everyone should support it,” Armato said. “They’re going to say the city council, the city, supports it, and then they’re going to couple it with all the misinformation that comes with their campaign.”
At the May 24 meeting, Damian Martin, an attorney and co-founder of Catalyst Cannabis with Eliott Lewis, said he wanted to cooperate with the city.
“We’re not trying to be outcasts,” Martin said. “We brought the measure because we thought it would be better received; This is obviously not the case.
In an April 29 letter to Jenkins and Lowenthal, Martin proposed retiring the citizens’ initiative and replacing it with a city council measure that would include a tax.
The council rejected the offer.
Martin spoke of a cooperative relationship, Jackson said, but it was what the councilman called an “11th-hour settlement offer.”
The city council also asked staff to prepare an order lifting the ban on the delivery of cannabis products in the city.
About 20 residents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, with many expressing concerns about the impact of cannabis on young people and crime, as well as the environment due to water consumption associated with the cultivation of cannabis.
“Any of us who live near PCH could be affected,” said former board member Carolyn Petty. “Can you imagine if we had shootings at Hermosa Beach? It’s not an exaggerated future if you read the news. Please, as elected officials, ensure the safety and well-being of our residents.
But Barry Walker, CEO of Tradecraft Farms, which helped lead the South Bay cannabis initiative effort, said it was never his intention to anger anyone.
Since entering various communities, they have been “invited to every dinner party” and have supported charities wherever they open new venues.
Walker said watching some Hermosa Beach meetings was like “watching a scene from ‘Reefer Madness,’ referencing the 1936 anti-drug movie.
Walker pointed to the large number of unlicensed and unregulated cannabis stores and said that’s where the safety and potency issues lie.
“That’s where people get really bad stuff,” Walker said. “We are regulated. We want to be a safe place.