In recent years progressives have argued that access to just about anything from healthcare to high speed Internet is a constitutional right. The city of Berkeley is adding to the list with a new law requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year free to low-income patients.
At Tuesday’s city council meeting, a unanimous vote added the free pot to the city’s medical pot rules:
"Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine,” said Berkeley City Council member Darryl Moore.
Under the proposal, at least two percent of all medical weed dispensed at a club would have to be provided at no cost to very low-income members — and it must be the same quality that’s dispensed to regular paying customers.
“We think this is the responsible thing to do for those less fortunate in our community,” said Moore.
The measure also revisits definitions for cannabis collectives and dispensaries, patients and caregivers, on top of setting new rules for hours of operation and the methods for testing cannabis and edibles.
One Berkeley marijuana dispensary, the Berkeley Patients Group, already gives out free cannabis to the poor, and has for 15 years.
“We’ve found out over the years that one of the cruel realities is that when you do get sick and you have a serious illness is that it’s often hard to keep a job, can be hard to keep your income up, so those people really need the help the most,” said Sean Luse of Berkeley Patients Group.
The measure is set for final approval next week.
While California's marijuana program is supposedly only open to people with medical needs, there are many reports of doctors giving out the "pot card"carte blanche.
It is not known whether the city council will also require grocery stores to distribute"free munchies."