Northern California

Hayward approves 11 commercial cannabis businesses

HAYWARD — Eleven commercial cannabis businesses have been given the OK to open in Hayward, including businesses specializing in cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, delivery or testing. None are dispensaries.

The majority of Hayward City Council members expressed excitement over the new businesses at their Tuesday meeting where they approved the businesses on a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Mark Salinas voting no. Salinas, who has expressed disdain for recreational cannabis in the past, voiced concern over how the decision would affect families and public safety in Hayward.

“Like any industry and like any company, there is a profit motive here. The profit motive is to sell cannabis, to sell weed,” he said. “It’s easier to get a pack of cigarettes and a [beer] than it is to get an apple in this city; now we’re going to add weed to the list.”

Each business is required to provide community benefits. While the council has not specified what these benefits must be, the businesses indicated they would donate a portion of their proceeds to local charities, hire Hayward residents and at-risk populations and provide education on safe cannabis consumption.

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday said she expects the ordinance to benefit the city in several ways, with economic prosperity at the top of her list, as the businesses will be taxed at 6 percent, and they all promised to hire local employees.

“Because of the structure that we created around this, we’re looking at community benefits and we’re looking at jobs,” she said in an interview. “Because the state legalized the substance and we see other cities around us jumping to have these businesses operate legally, I think there’s no reason for us not to be part of that and to reap some of those benefits.”

The approved businesses are: Hidden Farms and Empress Extracts for cultivation; Stoned Age Jerky and Mijosa for manufacturing; Green Haven for delivery; American Holdings, Sticky Thumb Delivery and Green Grizzly for micro-business, and Vista Development Enterprise, Manifest and CBRA for distribution.

A representative from Hidden Farms told the council it plans to open a Hayward chapter of its nonprofit Project Reckless, which works with at-risk youth to increase their skills and confidence by working on cars, according to the group’s website.

“I always saw that as an opportunity to open the doors to a new, blue-collar industry for a lot of the kids I work with,” the representative said.

John Stefanski, management analyst in the city manager’s office, echoed this idea, adding that these businesses could provide jobs to those who otherwise would have trouble finding employment.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop new jobs in our community, and jobs for individuals who may have had a difficult time finding jobs because maybe they have cannabis-related incidents on their record,” he said in an interview.

But Salinas was suspicious of the group’s promise to help at-risk youth, because he said he believes the problems of many at-risk youth are caused, in part, by marijuana.

“Some of these populations are at risk primarily because of the industry that we’re about to usher into the city,” he said at the council meeting.

Before the businesses can operate, they must obtain either a conditional or administrative permit within six months, with their building plans reviewed by the Planning Commission and the City Council.