Despite wide support in town, Hermosa Beach bans commercial marijuana businesses – The Daily Breeze

Recreational marijuana is so popular in Hermosa Beach that voters there delivered the third-highest percentage of support in the county for Proposition 64, behind only Santa Monica and West Hollywood.

But unlike those cities to its north, which are readying permit processes for some recreational marijuana businesses, the Hermosa Beach City Council slammed the door this week on any such shops in the beach town, even those that might want to sell seeds and growing paraphernalia.

“We’re interested in exercising our powers to the fullest extent,” Mayor Justin Massey said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We can always relax it if we see it’s working in other places.”

Massey’s sentiments are widely shared across the small cities of the South Bay, which have for years remained staunch holdouts to medical-marijuana sales.

So when the state begins issuing permits on Jan. 1 for recreational-marijuana businesses authorized under Proposition 64, many cities will be on the sidelines watching quietly while their neighbors profit from lucrative cultivation, manufacturing and distribution businesses.

The estimated $1 billion in tax revenue the state anticipates raking in from the new industry will largely go to public safety and youth-treatment programs. But cities that block marijuana sales would be left out of any revenue the state may otherwise distribute to cities.

‘Let’s wait’

Nearly 71 percent of Hermosa Beach voters approved recreational-marijuana sales, bested only by 75 percent of voters in Santa Monica and 83 percent in West Hollywood.

But Hermosa Beach City Attorney Michael Jenkins told council members their hesitation about approving marijuana businesses wasn’t unusual.

“A number of cities have said: ‘Let’s wait and see how things pan out, let’s institute a ban and maintain a status quo,’ ” Jenkins said. “If you don’t do anything, the state will issue licenses” in the city.

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