Berkeley, California is a cannabis stronghold. With a rich history of advocating for more open cannabis laws and an equally rich culture surrounding weed consumption, the city has built a reputation as one of the most progressive cities in the U.S. Now, thanks to a brand new resolution, Berkeley just became a sanctuary city for recreational weed.
Berkeley’s New Resolution
Last night, Berkeley City Council members passed the new resolution. Now, the city is officially a sanctuary city for recreational weed.
Under the resolution, “no department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City of Berkeley shall use any City funds to assist in the enforcement of Federal drug laws related to cannabis.”
The resolution went on to say “that the City of Berkeley does not support cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration in its efforts to undermine state and local marijuana laws.”
Berkeley’s Mayor, Jesse Arreguin, Tweeted that Berkeley may be the first weed sanctuary city in the nation. But it isn’t the first time the city of Berkeley has made such a move.
Back in 2008, Berkeley became a sanctuary city for medical cannabis. At that time, the city took a similar stance in opposition to the DEA. The city refused to cooperate with federal efforts to crack down on medical marijuana providers, sellers, and patients.
Responding to Jeff Sessions
One of the reasons why Berkeley just became a sanctuary city for recreational weed is a response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Sessions has never been shy about his opposition to weed. President Trump named him Attorney General last year. And ever since, Sessions has threatened to crack down on states with legal weed. Then, in January of this year, he took concrete steps in that direction.
Last month, he rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era document that directed federal agencies to take a “hands-off” approach to state cannabis laws. In so doing, Sessions opened the door for the DEA to more aggressively go after state-legal weed businesses and consumers.
Berkeley’s new resolution was drafted largely in opposition to these new developments. The resolution said that Sessions has created confusion among those trying to access California’s legal cannabis market. It also said that “this action by the Department of Justice represents an attack on cities where legal, safe sale and use occurs.”
Final Hit: Berkeley Just Became A Sanctuary City For Recreational Weed
California voters approved the legalization of recreational weed in 2016. Recreational retail went into effect at the beginning of the year, a few days before Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. For Berkeley city officials, the decision to become a weed sanctuary city was about protecting California residents’ decision to legalize.
Beyond that, the city’s resolution also talked about the harm caused by the war on drugs. It claimed that legalizing weed serves as one step toward addressing these harms. In particular, the resolution cited concerns over the vast amounts of money spent on enforcing drug laws, the massive prison population created by the War on Drugs, and the racially disparate ways that drug laws are enforced.