By Melissa Hutsell
Last week, the Berkeley, CA city council unanimously approved a proposal to allow consumption lounges at retail storefronts.
The decision permits users to vape, or consume cannabis products at licensed dispensaries. Those storefronts, however, must have ventilation systems, “capable of removing all detectable odors, smoke, and byproducts of consumption,” according to a report by the council.
City staff will establish standards for these ventilation systems at a later meeting.
Council members said that providing a safe place to legally consume cannabis is important. They noted that consumption is currently prohibited in most businesses, apartment complexes, and in public—leaving patients with little to no options.
The proposal’s opponents included the Berkeley Community Health Commission. The commission expressed concerns that smoking indoors could expose employees to secondhand smoke.
Smoking indoors was previously allowed within city limits, reports Berkeleyside, an East Bay news source. However, city officials enacted stronger smoking laws, prohibiting it.
It will be awhile before consumers can visit these lounges in the East Bay city. That’s because, in order to move forward with the proposal, council members must adjust the existing smoking statutes.
Additionally, these businesses that are interested in setting up such lounges will need to apply for use permits, a process that Berkeleyside reports could take up to one year.
However, these aren’t the only changes to the city’s cannabis regulations. For example, officials cleared the way for seven delivery companies; four to equity applicants. They also increased the buffer zone between schools and storefronts from 600 to 1,000 feet.