Berkeley’s City Council last night approved the wording for a November ballot measure that would amend the city’s ordinance regulating medical marijuana. The amendments would increase the number of licensed dispensaries in Berkeley from three to four, allow six non-dispensing locations for cultivation in the manufacturing district and change the status of the Medical Marijuana Commission to that of an ordinary city commission, rather than an autonomous one. Before last night’s meeting, the proposal was to allow 10 non-dispensing locations, not six.
In addition, the proposal would establish a 2.5% tax on medical marijuana sales. Oakland’s recent tax on dispensaries is expected to generate $1.5 million this year.
The amendments would also restrict dispensaries to locations more than 600 feet from any school, public or private. That provision eliminates a loophole that would have allowed dispensaries to locate next to private schools. Another provision in the ballot measure restricts residential cultivation of medical marijuana to no more than 200 sq. ft.
Mayor Tom Bates said at the meeting that he thought “going slow” in changes to regulation was the right approach for the city, since it is at an early stage of learning about the medical cannabis industry.