The Berkeley City Council at its meeting on Tuesday night will consider a proposed change to the city’s municipal code that would allow on-site cannabis consumption in lounges at storefront retailers that install a ventilation system.
The proposal being considered by councilmembers also would legalize up to seven cannabis delivery services in Berkeley, expand the area where cannabis can be commercially grown, and allow warehouses that take phone and internet deliveries.
City staff members recommend that the council allow cannabis consumption at lounges because such cannabis consumption is prohibited in public, in most businesses and in many apartments.
In a report to the council, staff members wrote:
“Providing a place to consume cannabis legally is important for patients who have no other options.”
However, the Berkeley Community Health Commission opposes allowing consumption at lounges because of the risk of secondary exposure to cannabis smoke and vapor and the risk of impaired driving.
The commission said it believes that public consumption of cannabis would undermine city policies promoting smoke-free air. The commission also opposes prohibiting the sale of flavored smoking and vaping products and flavored cannabis-flavored beverages.
Sabrina Fendrick of the Berkeley Patients Group, which was established in 1999 and says it’s the nation’s oldest cannabis dispensary, said the group is urging supporters to come to the meeting to urge the Council to approve cannabis consumption at lounges.
Fendrick said cannabis supporters might assume that the Council will automatically approve the consumption lounge proposal because of Berkeley’s history of supporting medical marijuana, but she said there’s been a strong push by some community members to oppose the proposal.
In an email to its members, the Berkeley Patients Group said:
“(Banning consumption lounges would) force patients to use cannabis products in public if they don’t have the right to consume in their own home.”
The group said:
“(A ban also would) deprive patients, veterans, cancer victims and others of a like-minded community space where they can support and promote their collective healing.”
The BPG also said:
“(Banning cannabis vaping would) drive patients to the illicit market, exposing them to untested products that contain pesticides, mold and other harmful contaminants.”
The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Berkeley Unified School District’s board room at 1231 Addison St. in Berkeley.