Berkeley City Council to hold special meeting to discuss forthcoming cannabis regulations

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Yukun Zhang/File

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Berkeley City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to resume discussions surrounding the development and drafting of local adult and medicinal use cannabis regulations.

Presently, a multidepartment team of city staff is preparing “comprehensive draft local regulations” in order to comply with greater state cannabis law for governing both adult and medicinal use, according to the meeting agenda item.

Once drafted, the cannabis regulations will go before the city’s Planning and Cannabis Commission and, ultimately, City Council, before implementation. The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting and work session will be, in part, to gather input from both the community and City Council to inform said regulations.

In November of 2016, California passed the Statewide Adult Use of Marijuana Act, or AUMA, which legalized both the sale and distribution of cannabis. Then, in June of 2017, the California State Legislature passed SB 94, the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation Safety Act, or MAUCRSA,  which replaces AUMA and merges adult-use and medicinal cannabis into one regulatory system.

Despite statewide legislation and legalization, the approval of recreational cannabis in Berkeley remains contingent on the adoption of local regulations, per the Berkeley Municipal Code.

These regulations, to be named the Berkeley Adult-Use and Medicinal Cannabis Ordinance, will address the types of cannabis business licenses permitted, the locations in which various license types can be used and the level of public input required for the city to grant certain licenses.

Furthermore, the ordinance is intended to mirror state legislation whenever possible, according to the agenda item. Cannabis businesses, however, will be required to have both state and city licenses to operate. The state is expected to start accepting license applications in January 2018.

District 7 Councilmember Kriss Worthington stressed the importance of developing and adopting local regulations as quickly as possible.

“We have waited too long for allowing cultivation and nursery delivery services to remain unregulated,” Worthington said. “Regulation and taxation is beneficial for the consumer … and it’s better for the taxpayers of Berkeley. This should have been done a long time ago, and we have to get our heads out of the sand and do it promptly.”

Contact Jared Brewer at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @JaredBBrewer.