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Berkeley Became the Nations First Sanctuary City for Recreational Weed

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On Valentines Day, Berkeley California became a Sanctuary City for recreational weed. This means “no department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City of Berkeley shall use any City funds to assist the enforcement of Federal drug laws related to Cannabis.” Berkeley’s Mayor, Jesse Arreguin Tweeted that Berkeley may be the first sanctuary city in the Nation.

Why become a Sanctuary City?

One reason Berkeley became a sanctuary city for recreational marijuana is a response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions, who has never been quiet about his opposition to weed, promised to crack down on states with legal weed and has made concrete steps in doing so. Last month, he rescinded the Cole Memo, an Obama-era document that directed federal agencies to keep a “hands off” approach to marijuana laws. Berkeley’s resolution was drafted in response to some of these developments.

The resolution said that Sessions has created confusion among those trying to access California’s legal cannabis market. It claims that the “action by the Department of Justice represents an attack on cities where legal, safe sale and use occurs.”

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The Final Step: Becoming a Sanctuary City

Recreational marijuana retail went into effect earlier this year, days before Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo. Berkeley is using their decision to become a sanctuary city as an effort to protect California residents’ decision to legalize.

They also claim that this transition will work as a step to address the War on Drugs and the harm it causes. The enormous amounts of money spent enforcing drug laws, as well as the large prison population created by the War on Drugs are other concerns addressed in the resolution.