California’s war on the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution took a dramatic new step on Tuesday, as the city of Berkeley declared itself a “sanctuary city” for marijuana-related crimes.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to become a sanctuary city for legal adult-use marijuana, prohibiting city agencies and employees from turning over information on legal cannabis activities and assisting in enforcing federal marijuana laws.
“I believe we can balance public safety and resisting the Trump administration,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “We’re keeping with the strong position Berkeley is a sanctuary for people in our community.”
The measure doesn’t prevent the Police Department and other officials from collaborating with federal agents on nonpot-related criminal matters.
Berkeley is thought to be the first such “sanctuary city” in the nation.
The new Berkeley policy takes the “sanctuary city” principle, which first developed to protect illegal aliens in defiance of federal immigration law, and extends it to drug laws.
Essentially, Berkeley is declaring that local governments have the power to nullify federal laws with which they disagree by refusing to enforce them or to cooperate with the federal government in their enforcement.
Critics have contended that the “sanctuary city” principle repeats the attempt by segregationist states in the Jim Crow South to override federal civil rights laws and policies.
Several California cities are “sanctuary cities” with regard to illegal aliens, and the state as a whole became a “sanctuary state” earlier this year.
The new Berkeley policy confirms the fear that what began with immigration policy could spread to other areas as well.
Recreational marijuana became legal in California on January 1, thanks to Proposition 64, which voters passed in 2016. However, marijuana remains largely illegal under federal law.
The policy of the Department of Justice under the Trump administration is to leave the question of enforcing federal laws on marijuana to the discretion of local federal prosecutors — a reversal of the Obama administration policy of not enforcing federal drug laws in states that had legalized marijuana.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.