Berkeley Declares Itself as U.S. “Sanctuary City” for Cannabis Users

Berkeley became the first city in the U.S. that is a sanctuary for cannabis users. (File image via The Chronicle)
Berkeley became the first city in the U.S. that is a sanctuary for cannabis users. (File image via The Chronicle)

Berkeley, in the state of California, has declared itself as the “first sanctuary city” for marijuana users in the United States, its council announced on Tuesday.

“We have become what may be the first city in the country to declare ourselves a sanctuary city for cannabis,” Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin tweeted.

Arreguin alongside City Councilmembers Ben Bartlett and Cheryl Davila were behind a resolution making Berkeley a sanctuary, which the City Council voted in favor of on Tuesday night.

The declaration comes as a direct response and in defiance of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who rescinded the Cole Memo in early January. Annuling the Cole Memo gave the federal government avenues to interfere with marijuana businesses and operations that are already legal at a state level.

There are nine U.S. states which have legalized recreational marijuana and 29 others which have permitted its medicinal use.

Arreguin dismissed Sessions’ crackdown as “misguided.” The attorney general’s clampdown also comes after California, which has a population of almost 40 million, on Jan. 1 became the largest state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The New Resolution

Quoting the new resolution, CNN reported that no department, agency, commission, officer or employee in Berkeley “shall use any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal drug laws related to cannabis.”

“The city of Berkeley does not support cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration in its efforts to undermine state and local marijuana laws,” the resolution states.

Californians deem Sessions’ move as contradictory to their freedom in their state, especially that they had voted to approve a proposition in 2016 to allow the use of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older.

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