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No Money, No Problem: Low Income Residents Qualify for Free Medical Marijuana in Berkeley
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No Money, No Problem: Low Income Residents Qualify for Free Medical Marijuana in Berkeley

Summary: A law has been passed by Berkeley City Council that will allow low-income residents to obtain free marijuana with a prescription. The new law will take effect next summer.

California is upholding its progressive reputation once again. The city of Berkeley has announced that, starting in the summer of 2015, low-income residents with a prescription for medical marijuana will be able to get the bud for free. Dispensaries in Berkeley will provide the free marijuana to individuals who earn less than $32,000 per year. For families, the income cap is $46,000 per year.


The city council passed the law unanimously. Approximately two percent of the dispensaries’ weed must be set aside for the free distributions.

Many dispensaries already set aside a portion of their product for “compassionate,” or free, distribution. There is not too much concern about lost profits with the new law in place.

As expected, many are upset about the new law. Bishop Ron Allen, head of the International Faith Based Coalition, stated, “It’s ludicrous, over-the-top madness. Why would Berkeley City Council want to keep their poverty-stricken under-served high, in poverty and lethargic?”

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However, many who support the law stated that marijuana has been recognized as a legal medicine in California. Since it’s benefits have been medically recognized in the state, supporters argue that people who have a true need for it should not be prohibited from its medicinal purposes because they can’t afford it. Darryl Moore, a Berkeley City Councilmember, remarked “Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine.” Major Tom Bates added, “There are some truly compassionate cases that need to have medical marijuana. But it’s expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer who don’t have the money.”

Sean Luse, the chief operating officer of Berkeley Patients Group dispensary, expressed little concern over the law, though he did note, “I do think there could be problems if we’re oversupplying demand and giving away more cannabis than is legitimately needed. We’ll see how this plays out.” Luse felts that two percent may be too much, and would prefer a one percent set-aside for low-income residents.

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