Cannabis Commission Clarifies Unclear Boundary

Proposals Written to Clearly Distinguish Between Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Collectives

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Berkeley's Medical Cannabis Commission is aiming to clarify an ambiguous city ordinance with a proposal to explicitly allow collectives to supply marijuana to local dispensaries.

According to Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, as it stands now, it seems like "cannabis magically falls from the sky" into local dispensaries.

"We want to address the issue of how medical marijuana gets to the dispensary to be given out," Worthington said. "We want to know where it is cultivated and how it travels."

The commission met March 18 and drafted three potential amendments to the city's municipal code that seek to clarify the legal distinction between collectives and dispensaries, according to the minutes from the meeting.

Marijuana collectives­-often composed of qualified patients and their primary caregivers­-supply dispensaries with marijuana grown in private residences.

Currently, the city does not allow for more than three dispensaries, but the number of collectives is not capped.

"We want to clarify that collectives can grow cannabis because there was a grey area there before," said Wendy Cosin, the commission's secretary. "The amended definition would state that collectives can supply dispensaries and other collectives with cannabis."

Worthington said there is currently no legally spelled-out process of how dispensaries obtain cannabis, which creates a "very weird and strange technical legal loophole" that could potentially allow dispensaries to obtain it illegally.

That potential could pose various health risks to patients, according to Brad Senesac, director of communications for the Berkeley Patients Group, a local medical marijuana dispensary.

"With collectives providing us with cannabis, distribution can be better monitored," he said. "We will be able to know whether (edibles were) safely baked and where the ingredients came from. We will be able to find out if they were grown with pesticides, if they're organic and if the ingredients meet FDA approval."

Senesac added that the collectives are often useful to dispensaries because, due to a limited amount of space, the dispensaries are not able to safely treat patients, bake and cultivate cannabis all at the same time.

Worthington said the proposal does not seek to increase the number of collectives in the city.

The commission's proposal is scheduled to go before the City Council for approval April 27 and, if adopted, will go into effect six weeks later, according to Cosin.


Contact Gabby Fastiggi at [email protected]

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