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Hawthorne legalizes weed stores on the same night voters in 3 South Bay cities rejected them

On election night, voters in the beach cities appeared to say “no, no, no” to commercial cannabis but in Hawthorne, city officials took a different stance.

“The city needs the revenue and this industry has the potential to be a good, steady stream of that revenue,” Councilwoman Olivia Valentine said during the Tuesday, Nov. 8, council meeting. “If we do nothing, our citizens will be patronizing businesses in other cities and those cities will be earning revenue and we will not see any benefit.”

A commercial cannabis ordinance was passed unanimously by the City Council earlier this week, allowing Hawthorne to issue six dispensary licenses and eight licenses for cannabis delivery.

Hawthorne will impose a cannabis sales tax of 5%, per a local ballot measure voters approved in 2020.

Meanwhile, Hawthorne may have close to a regional monopoly on the commercial cannabis business.

Ballot measures to legalize dispensaries appeared doomed in El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach – receiving around 59%, 73%, and 78% opposition, respectively, as of Friday, Nov. 11. Redondo Beach residents voted down a similar ordinance by around 75% during an Oct. 19 special election, though the City Council there previously voted to allow a limited number of dispensaries.

A vocal group of residents in Hawthorne was also opposed to commercial cannabis, citing concerns about crime, safety, and the impacts on children.

“All the feedback that was given was taken into account to have sufficient protections,” Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas said, “so that our children would be safe and wouldn’t have to see these operations and for there not to be any crime.”

Cannabis businesses should be at least 600 feet from schools and parks, and at least 150 feet from daycare facilities, treatment or recovery centers, and other cannabis businesses. Businesses must also have an armed and licensed security guard present during operating hours and install the Hawthorne Police Department’s video surveillance system.


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