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Berkeley Council Eyes OK for More Pot Dispensaries

Facing reduced tax revenues from the local medical marijuana dispensaries caused by federal crackdowns, the Berkeley City Council agenda Tuesday includes a look at increasing the number of allowed dispensaries to six from four.

The Berkeley City Council will consider amending the city's Medical Marijuana Ordinance at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting.
The Berkeley City Council will consider amending the city's Medical Marijuana Ordinance at its Sept. 17, 2013 meeting.
Published Sept. 16, 2013, 11:31 p.m.; updated Sept. 17, 8:36 a.m.

The City of Berkeley had been anticipating more than a million dollars in tax revenue next year from the city's three medical marijuana dispensaries – more than double the amount collected this year.

But federal action against the largest medical pot outlet, Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), has shaved the anticipated windfall significantly to just under $570,000, according to a city staff report prepared for Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

On the agenda are two slightly different proposals for revising the city's Medical Cannabis Ordinance, an issue that is continued from the June 11 meeting. Both options – one from the City Manager's office and the other from the city's Medical Cannabis Commission – would refer to the city Planning Commission an amendment of the city law to increase permitted dispensaries to six from four.

The two proposals would also establish a ranking process for selecting additional dispensaries.

One difference is whether customers should be allowed to consume marijuana at the dispensaries. The commission says it should be okay through means other than smoking – like pot brownies

The City Manager's office disagrees.

"The City should not permit consumption of intoxicants at a location from which customers will be driving," according the City Manager's office report to the council. "In response to the Commission’s concern that residents in public housing may need a place to medicate, medication through the use of edibles and (non-intoxicating) topical preparations would not violate smoking laws. While this would still be illegal under federal law, the risk of detection would be less."

The two proposals differ also over how the dispensaries should be protected after hours. The commission says guards. The City Manager's office says physical measures such as bars and gates over windows and doors. 

The City Manager's report also includes data on those who used the dispensaries in the first seven months of this year, showing 24,348 patients used the dispensaries during that period.

The city contributing the largest percentage of customers was Oakland (20.3 percent), followed by Berkeley (17.7 percent) and Richmond (4.9 percent). The largest age group was 21-30 (37.7 percent), followed by 31-40 (19.6 percent) and 51-60 (11.2 percent).

We'd like to know your thoughts in the comments. Do you think Berkeley should boost the number of allowed medical marijuana outlets in the city?
Heather Wood September 17, 2013 at 02:29 PM
Sounds like a way to bypass having to permanently close the 40 acres collective. Way to go, City of Berkeley!
Lucifer B Devill September 20, 2013 at 08:58 PM
City council members will volunteer to have these thriving, attractive businesses located in THEIR neighborhoods, right? I mean, if not, they must be NIMBY'S and or lacking in compassion for the sick and disabled.


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