Pubdate: Wed, 14 Feb 2018
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2018 Los Angeles Times
Author: Sarah Parvini


Berkeley may be the first city to declare itself a cannabis sanctuary
city. A customer shops at marijuana dispensary MedMen in West
Hollywood in January. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to declare the city a
sanctuary for recreational marijuana, a move that may be the first of
its kind.

The resolution, adopted Tuesday, prohibits Berkeley's agencies and
employees from using city resources to assist in enforcing federal
marijuana laws or providing information on legal cannabis activities.

"The city of Berkeley does not support cooperation with the Drug
Enforcement Administration in its efforts to undermine state and local
marijuana laws," the measure says.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin said the move was a response to "threats
by Atty. Gen. [Jeff] Sessions regarding a misguided crackdown on our
democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis." Arreguin,
Councilman Ben Bartlett and Councilwoman Cheryl Davila authored the

"We have become what may be the first city in the country to declare
ourselves a sanctuary city for cannabis," Arreguin tweeted.

Sessions ended an Obama-era federal policy that provided legal shelter
for marijuana sales in California and five other states that have
allowed recreational pot in January. The 2013 policy, known as the
"Cole memorandum," provided clarity not just to marijuana businesses
and users, but also to state and local law enforcement agencies, which
now could find themselves working at cross purposes with their federal

Berkeley has a long history of lenient marijuana laws. In 1979, voters
passed the Berkeley Marijuana Initiative, which called for the city's
Police Department to make the possession, cultivation, sale and
transportation of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority.
Decades later, in 2008, the City Council declared Berkeley a sanctuary
for medical cannabis patients and providers.

California voters paved the way for recreational marijuana in November
2016, with Proposition 64 earning 57% approval statewide. Support was
much higher in Berkeley, where 83% of voters supported the measure,
according to city officials.

The ballot measure made California one of eight states to approve the
sale of cannabis for recreational use. Those 21 and older can purchase
and possess up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use and grow
up to six plants in their homes.

"Berkeley has always been a sanctuary city," said Councilman Bartlett.
"When Jeff Sessions announced he was repealing Obama era protections
on states' rights in regards to cannabis, we decided to step up."

The new resolution plays an "imperative" role in preventing "federal
overreach," he said.

"We will not allow the return of Prohibition," he said. "It destroys
communities of color, thwarts the will of the people and prevents a
health economy from manifesting."
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