Q&A: Berkeley Town Councilmember Ben Bartlett on improving California’s legal marijuana industry

Ben Bartlett spent some time working tirelessly to get ready his metropolis of Berkeley for California’s brand-new recreational marijuana laws.

In addition to initiatives such as for example expanding affordable housing, the council member has been instrumental to make sure that Berkeley is among the few regional governments that will be ready to take part in recreational sales beginning in 2018.

Bartlett has sat on four Berkeley commissions even though also working as an environmental attorney. He originates from a deep history of activism – developing up with a mother who worked with the Black Panthers, and a daddy who dished up as an organizer in the East Bay.

But less than a year after serving about Berkeley’s council, Bartlett just lately announced his candidacy for point out Assembly as an East Bay representative, and hopes to boost both medical and recreational cannabis applications on circumstances level.

Bartlett was gracious more than enough to answer a few of our questions about the future of legal marijuana found in California.

Smell the reality: Could you briefly describe the background found in California politics related to cannabis?

Ben Bartlett: For a long time, my family has used marijuana as medicine. I know that marijuana is healthy for your brain, body, and economy. I grew up encircled by marijuana and politics. My father was a political activist who fought hard to create the first medicinal permit in the country. Following in his footsteps, I’ve led initiatives to streamline recreational cannabis rules and expand overall options for cannabis in Berkeley. I and Mayor Jesse Arreguin crafted Berkeley’s pioneering initiative to quickly grant recreational cannabis licenses to existing medical dispensaries. I am fully aware of the good work that cannabis businesses are doing inside our communities. I was generally there serving foods on Thanksgiving with among the permitted dispensaries in the town of Berkeley!

StT: Why do the majority of California counties and districts seem to get unprepared for subsequent year’s rollout of recreational product sales and regulations?

Bartlett: I think no more than 28 percent of community governments have prepared rules. There are several reasons for this. Primary, let’s face it. Bureaucracies wish to stall. The point out took a long time to finalize its guidelines, which gave regional jurisdictions the possibility to delay. Second, there is still some fear and stigma linked to the industry. Third, plenty of metropolitan areas are starting entirely from scratch. Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond have an advantage because that they had produced existing cannabis markets ahead of the passing of prop 64. Various other jurisdictions are trying to get up. Hopefully, they are able to follow our example.

StT: How are actually Berkeley officials approaching the impending recreational plan, and what separates you from additional cities?

Bartlett: Berkeley is ahead of the curve regarding protecting patients and consumers as a result of the rigorous screening requirements for all product that is sold-out of Berkeley dispensaries. Because our existing businesses have demonstrated over the years that they can be superb neighbors and good residents in our community, we’ve welcomed them and so are ready to go on January 1.

StT: Will there be more that you can do to inspire and empower even more minorities to enter the legal cannabis sector?

Bartlett: There’s always even more that you can do to inspire and empower minorities. Not just in the cannabis sector, but across the board. The passing of prop 64 was designed to help with that, plus some cities have developed mechanisms to handle these issues. We need to acknowledge that there are persons of color in prison for performing the exact ditto that white guys are legally getting wealthy off of. This is a fresh sector and there’s a distinctive opportunity here to accomplish it correct from the beginning instead of trying to fix deeply institutionalized problems later on. We need to create opportunities to greatly help more persons of color and girls turn into owners of cannabis businesses.

StT: Conduct you foresee any federal government interference found in California’s legal programs, offered the administration’s seemingly prohibitionist stance? If consequently, how should the state respond?

Bartlett: Because cannabis is legal found in purple states want Colorado and Nevada, there is considerably more bipartisanship arrangement on legalization than there’s been in the past. For the very first time in history, a majority of Republicans in polls have stated that they have confidence in the legalization of cannabis. It’s hard to learn with Trump. With the brand new federal budget cuts, we realize that states will come to be strained for solutions. I suspect that cannabis can be more attractive.

StT: Now that you’re functioning for the point out Assembly in 2018, how do you intend to insure further success and improvements to both the state’s medical and recreational applications?

Bartlett: There are several exciting new permit types that the point out has put together to be able to lower barriers to entry to the cannabis sector. I’d prefer to see those areas expanded.

On top of that, I want to ensure medical cannabis is open to almost all those who need it. I also want to ensure that little dispensaries and cultivators that contain helped build this market can continue steadily to thrive.

Lastly, I wish to reduce the tax rate about cannabis products. Currently, the tax amount is unsustainably high in many jurisdictions, often exceeding 50 percent. This will not bring about a robust and thriving sector. It can help create a black market and become so cost-prohibitive that just large corporations will achieve success. We need to ensure that persons who are shopping for cannabis in California will be buying a product that is secure, tested, and regulated.

Here’s a website link to our donation webpage! I am thrilled to champion progressive cannabis policy in Sacramento.


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