Berkeley could become a sanctuary city for marijuana if the council approves what is believed to be a first-of-its-kind proposal Tuesday.
The resolution would prohibit city agencies and employees from helping authorities enforce federal marijuana laws. Pot may be legal in California, but the federal government still considers it illegal.
And now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions removed guidelines that directed United States attorneys to leave marijuana businesses alone, federal action against cannabis collectives is more likely.
"This is an effort to recriminalize what we voted to decriminalize," Berkeley Councilman Ben Bartlett said.
Bartlett co-authored a resolution that essentially tells the feds if they want to go after pot clubs, they're on their own and will not get help from Berkeley.
"If it passes it sets a tone and policy to protect our industry here and protect patients so they can go forward with some sense of security to operate in Berkeley," Bartlett said.
Berkeley has had a history of shielding its cannabis culture. Back in 1979, the city directed its own police department to make marijuana enforcement its lowest priority. Given that, some question if the city really needs this resolution. But industry insiders said there could be other benefits.
"This mechanism may make people feel safer, especially new industry trying to get a foot hold here in Berkeley," said Jimi Devine with Cannabis Now.
The council also plans to take up the issue of how the cannabis industry should be taxed to remain competitive, but still provide funding for the city.