The Berkeley City Council is considering allowing two more medical marijuana dispensaries to open. This comes as the city faces substantially lower tax revenue since losing their largest cannabis outlet, Berkeley Patients Group (BPG). The city had been expecting over a million dollars next year from the city’s three dispensaries, but now expects less than $570,000, according to a city staff report used in Tuesday night’s City Council meeting.
The City Council is mulling two similar proposals for revising the Medical Cannabis Ordinance – one from the City Manager’s office and another from the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission. Both options would increase the number of permitted pot shops from four to six. The two proposals would likewise create a ranking system for selecting new dispensaries.
But the two choices differ on the question of whether dispensaries should be permitted to allow patients to consume cannabis on-site. The Commission, taking into consideration that residents of public housing may need a safe place to medicate that wouldn’t violate federal housing regulations, proposed allowing consumption at dispensaries through other means than smoking – such as edibles.
The City Manager’s office thinks differently.
“The City should not permit consumption of intoxicants at a location from which customers will be driving,” according the City Manager’s office report to the council. “In response to the Commission’s concern that residents in public housing may need a place to medicate, medication through the use of edibles and (non-intoxicating) topical preparations would not violate smoking laws. While this would still be illegal under federal law, the risk of detection would be less.”
The two proposals also differ on how dispensaries should be protected after hours. The Commission suggests security guards. The City Manager’s office proposes physical measures like gates and bars over doors and windows.