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Berkeley, California to Allow Cannabis Consumption in Lounges

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On Jan. 28, the Berkeley City Council in California voted to approve a measure to allow cannabis consumption lounges in the city. While local residents voiced their concerns about having a dispensary and consumption lounge near a busy intersection of the city, city leaders opted to move forward with the concept instead.

One dispensary, Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), hopes to reopen a consumption lounge on the corner of University and San Pablo Avenues at 1101 University Ave. The lounge would most likely allow only cannabis vaping, but would also allow acupressure, massage and yoga. “If they think that’s the best location, I wonder what a bad location is. Plus we got no notice for the neighbors of this business about this lounge,” Carol Denney, Berkeley resident, told KPIX 5 

At BPG’s old location 2747 San Pablo Ave., the company already operated a consumption lounge until 2012, but abandoned the operation after it was threatened by its landlord and a U.S. Attorney.

Residents pointed out that the consumption lounge would be located near a preschool and a library, but BPG representatives say that’s outrageous, considering the current state of the neighborhood. “Right now that neighborhood is an eye sore on make it a beautiful space. A nice entrance to the city,” said Lauren Watson, who works with BPG.

For decades, streets like Telegraph and University Avenues in Berkeley have served as a mecca for cannabis consumers and the alternative hippie lifestyle, boosted by local student activists. Nobody is surprised that the city is becoming a pioneer for cannabis consumption lounges.

In 2018, Berkeley City Council unanimously voted to declare the city a sanctuary for cannabis with a symbolic resolution. The resolution declared that city leaders won’t cooperate with Drug Enforcement Administration tactics and efforts. In addition, the University of California at Berkeley announced the launch of a cannabis research center in the city last year. In Berkeley, even its famous record store Amoeba Music opened a dispensary inside its premises.

The city council also looked at allowing up to seven delivery services in the city, expanding approved cultivation areas and potential warehouses that can accept phone and internet orders.