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Berkeley, Calif., votes to become 'sanctuary city' for marijuana

By Ray Downs
Pro-medical marijuana demonstrators protest outside a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif., on July 23, 2012. On Tuesday, the city council in nearby Berkeley voted to make the city a sanctuary for marijuana users and sellers. File Photo by David Yee/UPI
Pro-medical marijuana demonstrators protest outside a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the Fox Theater in Oakland, Calif., on July 23, 2012. On Tuesday, the city council in nearby Berkeley voted to make the city a sanctuary for marijuana users and sellers. File Photo by David Yee/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The city council of Berkeley, Calif., voted to make the city a sanctuary for adult marijuana users and sellers.

Marijuana is already legal for recreational and medicinal use in California, but the plant is still illegal under federal law. The Berkeley city council's decision will add a layer of protection for adults who use marijuana by prohibiting local law enforcement agencies from cooperating with the federal government to enforce federal marijuana prohibition.

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The city council's measure was taken after Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Department of Justice might enforce federal marijuana prohibition laws on a larger scale than under the Obama administration.

"Increased federal enforcement of marijuana will have serious social and economic consequences," the resolution states. "Uncertainty about potential enforcement and or enforcement itself may force established medical and adult-use cannabis-related businesses to close or move underground, which could impede the development of the newly regulated market and threaten public safety."

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The resolution says the marijuana industry generates $1 billion in tax revenue for the state of California and an additional $3 million for the city of Berkeley.

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"The cannabis economy is also generating hundreds, if not thousands, of well-paying jobs with benefits that would be threatened by increased federal enforcement," the resolution states.

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin praised the vote and said he believes his city can "balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration," according to the San Francisco Gate

"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," Arreguin tweeted.

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