Berkeley City Council Approves Cannabis Consumption Lounges
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously last week on several changes to the municipal code regarding cannabis consumption and delivery services.
The new changes will allow on-site consumption of weed in lounges, located in storefronts of cannabis retailers, or dispensaries, as well as permit seven cannabis delivery services, to operate within the city.
Previous regulation prohibited the use of cannabis in public places. What’s more, most businesses, and even landlords, banned the use of cannabis on their premises, a practice which left many recreational users, and more importantly, medical weed patients, without a lot of options.
The vote came late on Tuesday night after a lively debate on the pros and cons of these changes to the municipal code.
Opponents to the new regulation cited exposure to secondhand smoke and risks of driving under the influence as the main reasons why these changes should not be approved. They also argued that consumption lounges are not in line with the city’s initiative to create smoke-free environments and deter people from public smoking.
The City Council, on the other hand, stated that providing a safe location where medical cannabis users can legally consume weed is of the utmost importance.
Consumption won’t start at once. To allow vaping lounges to operate, cannabis retailers must install ventilation systems to clear the area of smoke and other harmful materials.
Although the CDC has warned that secondhand tobacco smoke can cause lung cancer, there is no evidence to point that cannabis vaping poses the same risk. In fact, a 2017 review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that secondhand weed smoke can lead to the absorption of THC, but nothing more.
While cannabis lounges will help tourists, renters, and homeless people indulge cannabis in well-ventilated, safe sites, it will also improve the public image of weed as a product that is both safe and legal to consume.
As new studies find even more benefits to using pot, such as reduction of opioids prescriptions and alcohol consumption, promoting cannabis has never been more significant.