Berkeley Becomes Sanctuary City, Likely the First, for Marijuana Smokers

by | February 14, 2018

By Annie Ma

Cannabis users and providers in Berkeley got an added layer of protection on Tuesday as the city declared itself a sanctuary city for marijuana, likely the first of its kind.

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to become a sanctuary city for legal adult-use marijuana, prohibiting city agencies and employees from turning over information on legal cannabis activities and assisting in enforcing federal marijuana laws.

"I believe we can balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration," Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at Tuesday's council meeting. "We're keeping with the strong position Berkeley is a sanctuary for people in our community."

The measure doesn't prevent the Police Department and other officials from collaborating with federal agents on nonpot-related criminal matters.

Arreguin, Councilman Ben Bartlett and Councilwoman Cheryl Davila authored the resolution in response to the rescinding of guidelines that ordered federal prosecutors to lay off pot activities that complied with state and local laws.

While the resolution sends a message of support to the cannabis industry and one of resistance to the federal government, experts said it would be difficult to stop a federal enforcement operation set on cracking down on a particular provider.

But noncompliance would slow attempts at federal enforcement, as the Drug Enforcement Agency and federal prosecutors often rely on local agencies to give information and manpower for their operations.

(c)2018 the San Francisco Chronicle