Berkeley might soon start resembling the fictitious city of Agrestic featured in the hit TV series “Weeds,” where a widowed young mother bakes pot cookies at home to make ends meet.
Except, there would be nothing illegal about it.
Berkeley’s Medical Cannabis Commission is considering a proposition that would allow all three of the city’s medical marijuana dispensaries to expand beyond retail space to grow cannabis and bake marijuana-laced cookies and brownies in residential and commercial properties
If this sounds like a belated April Fool’s joke, it’s not. The commission is expected to bring the proposal before the Berkeley City Council on April 27.
A related proposal from the commission would allow medical marijuana patient groups to grow cannabis or bake marijuana goods inside their homes or commercial spaces and sell them to medical marijuana clinics.
The idea is not to turn Berkeley into “pot heaven,” but according to the Medical Cannabis Commission, regulate the quality of the grown and baked cannabis goods being sold at dispensaries throughout the city.
The city is currently contemplating taxing medical cannabis clinics based on their square footage to increase revenue, a move some advocates of medical marijuana view as a bit extreme.
However, most of them said Wednesday that they approved of the new regulations being proposed.
“We definitely like it,” said Brad Senesac, director of communications for the Berkeley Patients Group, which is getting ready to move from its tiny space on San Pablo Avenue to the Scharffen Berger candy factory a few blocks away. “We think it will make things better—there will be more policies and procedures in place. Right now you have collectives of patients who grow or make marijuana goods but it’s not regulated by the city’s health department.”
Most medical cannabis clubs in Berkeley work with specific vendors who have “quality spaces” to grow and develop marijuana products, but “we want more regulation,” Senesac said. “We want the products to be certified.”
Senesac said the Berkeley Patients Group discussed the proposals with several other dispensaries as well as city officials.
“With the small space we have right now, we don’t have a bakery or a commercial grow area,” he said. “We barely have room for a dispensary or social services.”
The Berkeley Patients Group offers therapy, massages and free food and drink and sells products such as cannabis flowers, extracts, oils, chocolates, teas, lemonade and topical ointments.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington, a staunch advocate of medical marijuana, said that new regulations would clear any ambiguity associated with vendors growing marijuana or selling goods made from it.
Worthington said that although state Proposition 215 allowed people to grow small quantities of marijuana at home, “it’s a weird thing legally.”
“The clubs have a permit to dispense it to their patients, but it’s sort of a gray area where the cannabis can be grown before coming to the dispensary,” he said. “We need to figure out a way to provide legal protection to the people who are providing it to the dispensary.”
Meanwhile, Berkeley’s neighboring cities like Richmond and Walnut Creek are cracking down on cannabis clinics and imposing hefty fines on them.