Cannabis plants for sale at Berkeley Patients Group. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
The city of Berkeley is already on record saying it will not help the Trump administration in its crackdown on undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, the City Council made Berkeley a sanctuary of another sort; it declared it will not help the federal government crack down on cannabis businesses.
In light of threats by Attorney General Sessions regarding a misguided crackdown on our democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis, we have become what may be the first city in the country to declare ourselves a sanctuary city for cannabis. #berkmtg
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) February 14, 2018
While the sale of medicinal marijuana has been legal in California for years, and recreational cannabis since January, the federal government still regards marijuana as a serious drug whose use is illegal.
The vote by the City Council means that that “no city department, agency, officer or employee can use city funds to assist in the enforcement of federal laws surrounding cannabis,” according to a press release put out by Mayor Jesse Arreguín’s office.
“Millions of peaceful Americans have been fined, arrested, imprisoned, or otherwise needlessly criminalized and stigmatized, sometimes for life, because of their use of marijuana,” Arreguín said in the statement. “This War on Drugs has cost over $1 trillion dollars and turned the U.S. into a nation of mass incarceration — imprisoning 2 million American citizens. Worse, the enforcement of marijuana and other drug laws has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. Ending this misguided policy is long overdue.”
The idea of calling Berkeley a sanctuary city for cannabis was so uncontroversial that the item was on the City Council’s consent agenda.
In contrast, the City Council spent much more time discussing whether to lower