Berkeley Ballot Will Include Measures on Medical Marijuana, Funding for Emergency Services
The Nov. 2 Berkeley ballot will include two health-related measures that would ease medical marijuana laws and increase property taxes to fund the city's emergency medical services, the Berkeley Voice reports.
Measure R would eliminate a requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries in the city obtain a use permit, instead allowing them to open anywhere permitted by zoning laws. Under existing rules, dispensaries for medical marijuana are required to "go through a laborious permit process, including a public hearing," before they are allowed to open, the Times reports. The new system would loosen the rules to preclude the need for a permit or public notice (Snapp, Contra Costa Times, 8/20).
The measure also would require the city to provide marijuana to patients if state or federal agents seize the patients' authorized personal supplies. It would replace Berkeley's current provision limiting medical marijuana users to 10 marijuana plants with language that allows patients to possess marijuana for medical purposes in quantities determined by "personal needs," as defined by doctors and patients. In addition, the measure would establish a peer-review committee to oversee the safety and operation of the city's medical marijuana dispensaries (California Healthline, 7/6).
Supporters of the measure say it will improve access to marijuana for chronically ill patients. However, opponents worry that the measure would allow dispensaries to "pop up wherever they want, without any oversight by the city," the Times reports.
Measure M would impose a property tax increase on homeowners to generate additional funding for the city's emergency medical services. Supporters say the tax would increase to $79 annually for the average homeowner to help address a $1 million deficit in Berkeley's paramedic services fund. However, opponents argue that the measure would amount to a 59% tax increase to replace general fund money the city already spends on paramedic services (Contra Costa Times, 8/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.