BERKELEY, Calif.–Berkeley has declared itself a sanctuary city for marijuana users, a largely symbolic move that cements a policy prohibiting city employees from assisting federal officials in the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the resolution proposed by Mayor Jesse Arreguin and two city councilmembers.
“I believe we can balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration,” Arreguin said.
In a tweet after the vote, Arreguin said the move was a direct response to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “misguided crackdown on our democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis.”
In light of threats by Attorney General Sessions regarding a misguided crackdown on our democratic decision to legalize recreational cannabis, we have become what may be the first city in the country to declare ourselves a sanctuary city for cannabis. #berkmtg
— Jesse Arreguin (@JesseArreguin) February 14, 2018
Sessions said last month it would be up to U.S. prosecutors in states where pot is legal to decide which marijuana cases they pursue. And while federal prosecutors have not acted against legal marijuana businesses, several states are considering so-called sanctuary status to protect them.
The measure in the famously liberal city does not prevent local officials from assisting federal agents in other drug-related crimes, Arreguin said.
Californians voted in November 2016 to legalize recreational marijuana and abolish a host of pot-related crimes, but using or possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
California, Alaska, Massachusetts and Washington are considering bills that would bar using state resources in any federal efforts against businesses that are in compliance with state marijuana states.