At about 10:30 last night, at the Berkeley City Council meeting, Mayor Jesse Arreguin pulled the item for cannabis events at Cesar Chavez Park off the agenda … for now. The move followed strong objections from a number of concerned Berkeley residents and park visitors across a wide range of concerns. People who need to breathe clean air opposed it; people who love the park’s family atmosphere opposed it; people who love the park’s wildlife opposed it; even dog lovers opposed it, and strongly, because cannabis is a deadly poison for canines.
The mayor’s last-minute rethink now refers the three-day Big Cannabi$ blowout to Berkeley’s commissions. The Parks and Waterfront Commission and the Cannabis Commission (yes, Berkeley has one) were mentioned. The Community Health Commission should also be included, as should the Community Environmental Advisory Commission and the Children, Youth, and Recreation Commission, as well as the Youth Commission. The Disability Commission should have a voice because smoking in the park impacts all people who suffer from respiratory impairments such as asthma. Because of fire danger from smoking at the park, the Disaster and Fire Safety Commission ought to review the proposal. Due to the great likelihood of stoned drivers emerging from the event, the Berkeley Police Department will be burdened and ought to submit an enforcement plan and associated budget for the proposed event.
Sources say that the proposal will meet with strong opposition on the Parks and Waterfront Commission. A member of the Health Commission also spoke at the council meeting about the dangers of cannabis to youth and pregnant women. The Cannabis Commission’s published minutes show discussion of indoor cannabis consumption events but, so far, no mention of the proposed High Times Cannabis Cup in the park.
The park is spared the Big Cannabi$ impact for the moment. But the proposal is far from dead. People who love Cesar Chavez Park need to remain alert and speak up loud and clear in all available venues to save the park.