BERKELEY'S NEWS • OCTOBER 01, 2022

Berkeley City Council delays discussion on expanding number of cannabis dispensaries

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BOWEN XIAO | FILE

Greenleaf Wellness Group, located in the small white house in the middle, has been declared a public nuisance in the Berkeley City Council meeting.

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JUNE 19, 2013

Berkeley City Council postponed discussion on a medical marijuana ordinance at its council meeting last week, delaying the addition of a fourth dispensary indefinitely.

The ordinance aims to clarify the legal definition of both medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives to improve the city’s ability to regulate cannabis suppliers. At the meeting, council members delayed discussion until October.

The proposal, entitled “Medical Cannabis Ordinance Revisions and Dispensary Selection Process,” includes amendments to the Berkeley Municipal Code and contains a new selection process that would govern how the city would choose additional medical marijuana dispensaries. The proposal also recommends that the city increase the number of dispensaries allowed from four to six to improve medical patients’ access to medical marijuana.

Rick Pfrommer, chairperson of the Medical Cannabis Commission, has spent the last two years modeling Berkeley’s medical marijuana policy after those of Oakland and San Francisco. Now that the proposal has been postponed, he says he is worried about the city’s inability to add a new dispensary and even regulate pre-existing collectives and dispensaries.

“You have a situation in Berkeley where all the dispensaries came around before rules were established,” Pfrommer said. “It’s become important (to distinguish them) in Berkeley, because collectives were operating as de facto dispensaries and not just incidental to residential use as specified in the law.”

According to Medical Cannabis Commission member Charles Pappas, the current definitions of dispensaries and collectives are vague. He said that currently, dispensaries are defined as being located in nonresidential areas only, while collectives are in residential areas and can only utilize a certain quota of a home’s living space.

By clarifying the laws regarding dispensaries and collectives, legality issues with institutions such as those with Greenleaf Wellness Group could be eliminated, according to Councilmember Jesse Arreguin. Greenleaf Wellness Group was declared a public nuisance on June 4.

“How many more Greenleafs will be allowed before we take action?” Arreguin said. “(The decision to postpone discussion on the proposal) prevents us from being able to prevent that, because the proposal tightens up the law.”

At the meeting last week, the council also agreed to file a lawsuit against the federal government in support of Berkeley Patients Group, the city’s oldest and largest medical marijuana dispensary. BPG is currently facing a lawsuit from the U.S. attorney’s office, which is ordering a forfeiture of BPG’s property for allegedly violating federal law.

“The difference between Greenleaf and Berkeley Patients Group is that Berkeley Patients Group is a legally functioning dispensary,”  Arreguin said. “We have had very few, if any, problems with them. Greenleaf is the opposite.”

Contact Elise Lagana-Aliotti at  or on Twitter

LAST UPDATED

JUNE 19, 2013


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