HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Cannabis businesses are officially coming to surf city. It's not a matter of if anymore, but when.
With the election officially over, residents voted in favor of Measure O, which will place a special tax on cannabis retail and other types of cannabis-related businesses in the city.
The city currently prohibits cannabis businesses.
According to the Orange County Registrar of Voters, Measure O racked up 42,700 votes in favor of Measure O, with 35,400 against it.
The measure, which places a 6% tax on cannabis retailers and up to 1% on other types of cannabis operations, just needed a simple majority of more than 50% to pass.
City officials and staff have previously said the tax money from cannabis businesses could add up to $600,000 annually to the city's coffers and revitalize the city's economic landscape.
The tax money will fund police, people who are homeless and behavioral health services.
The passing of Measure O in the November election was a mere formality.
A similar measure was narrowly defeated in the June primary election after failing to get the supermajority of 66% of votes needed to pass. It received 64%.
Huntington Beach joins Santa Ana and Costa Mesa as the only cities in Orange County to allow commercial retail cannabis.
Laguna Woods voters also passed a measure in the recent election to tax cannabis businesses once and if the city allows those types of companies in the future.
Meanwhile, Huntington Beach already began preparing for the passage of Measure O and bringing in cannabis businesses.
In the Nov. 15 meeting, the City Council voted in favor of city staff to delete the city's existing cannabis prohibition and draft a new one allowing it.
City staff are creating a land-use map of where to place and zone cannabis retail storefronts and other related businesses, which must be 600 to 1,000 feet away from schools, parks, day care and youth centers.
The city's planning commission expects to evaluate the land-use amendment on Dec. 13 before the City Council reviews it in January.
City officials said they would continue working with the community throughout this process and expect to begin issuing operator permits in Spring 2023.