Berkeley, CA Marijuana Ordinance

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Berkeley, CA, US

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Type: Ballot Initiative

Status: Adopted in 1979

Source File: (Missing)


The following chapter of the Berkeley Municipal Code was passed by a voter initiative in 1979. Among other things, it orders the police to make marijuana lowest law enforcement priority. The Berkeley Marijuana Ordinance has been the law in Berkeley for over a quarter century, yet it has never been fully enforced. Its one certain effect has been to cause the police to produce reports of marijuana arrests.


12.24.010 Purpose
The unjust laws restricting the cultivation and use of marijuana must be repealed.

The much publicized paraquat poison scare in 1978 reveled again how the government's efforts to stop the use of marijuana are more likely to harm our citizens than to protect them.

The people of Berkeley have supported decriminalization efforts on the ballot in 1972 and 1973, and through this initiative intend to do so again.

It has been six years since the last such measure passed, and still the laws against marijuana remain on the books and continue to be enforced.

We are inpatient for the reform of the marijuana laws, and the return of our basic freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The ordinance codified in this chapter will:

A. Allow the people of Berkeley to become more economically self-reliant as increase cultivation of marijuana for personal use reduces the current expenditure of millions of dollars for marijuana grown outside Berkeley.

B. Reduce the current expenditure of public funds for senseless enforcement of marijuana laws, available funds should be used for needed community services, not harassment;

C. Remove the fear of prosecution from people who use marijuana for treatment of glaucoma, chemotherapy, side effects, and other medical problems.

D. Decrease tensions between the police and members of the community who are made to feel like criminals as a result of marijuana law enforcement;

E. Reduce the theft of marijuana plants by making it possible to report such thefts to the police, and

F. Instruct the city government to support all efforts toward the reform of marijuana laws. (Ord. 5137-NS 1. 1979)

It is the desire of the people of Berkeley that marijuana be legalized in California. In this context, the people of Berkeley fully support the statewide efforts to further decriminalize or legalize marijuana. The city council is directed to lobby in favor of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana, and shall seek to ensure that the Berkeley police department undertakes similar lobbying. (Ord. 5137-NS 5, 1979)

12.24.030 Law enforcement priority of marijuana statutes.
The city council shall seek to ensure that the Berkeley police department gives lowest priority to the enforcement of marijuana laws. (Ord. 5137-NS 2, 1979)

12.24.040 Arrests and citation for violations of marijuana statutes.
The city council shall seek to ensure that the Berkeley police department makes no arrests and issues no citation for violations of marijuana laws. (Ord. 5137-NS 3, 1979)

12.24.050 No expenditure of funds for enforcement of marijuana statutes.
The city council shall not expend or authorize the expenditure, nor shall any expenditure be made by the city, of public funds for any activity or activities performed by any employee or agent of the city, including but not limited to members of the Berkeley police department, directed towards enforcement of Sections 11357, 11359, and/or 11360 of the California Health and Safety Code. (Ord. 5137-NS 4, 1979)

12.24.060 University of California police to adhere to city policy.
The people of Berkeley declare that the University of California at Berkeley should adhere to the policy of the city as established by this chapter. (Ord 5137-NS 6, 1979)

12.24.070 Berkeley police department reporting requirement.
The city council shall ensure that the Berkeley police department reports semi-annually to it and the Berkeley police review commission regarding all marijuana law enforcement activities, if any, engaged in by the Berkeley police department, and by county, state, and federal, and/or other law enforcement agencies within Berkeley. (Ord. 5137-NS 7, 1979)