The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously recently to change the city’s municipal code to allow on-site cannabis consumption in lounges at storefront retailers that install a ventilation system.
The Jan. 28 vote also legalizes up to seven cannabis delivery services in Berkeley.
Before the meeting, city staff members recommended 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 is the nation’s oldest cannabis dispensary.
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.