The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night
to change the city’s municipal code to allow on-site cannabis consumption in lounges
at storefront retailers that install a ventilation system.
The vote also legalizes up to seven cannabis delivery
services in Berkeley.
Before the meeting, city staff members recommend that the
council allow cannabis consumption at lounges because such 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 opposed
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 public consumption of
cannabis would undermine city policies that promote smoke-free air and that
reduce the social normalization of smoking.
But the measure was supported by the Berkeley Patients
Group, which was established in 1999 and says it’s the nation’s oldest cannabis
After the vote, the group issued a statement thanking its
members and supporters, saying, “You are an integral part of history and
progress in our city.”
The BPG said, “We want to thank our city council
members for their diligence and thoughtfulness. We’d also like to thank the
staff, who spent three years researching and developing their prudent
recommendations for a post-legalization world.”
The group said Berkeley officials “have shaped the most
progressive cannabis regulations in the country.”
The City Council also considered prohibiting the sale of
flavored smoking and vaping products but decided to table that possibility
until further research is available.