By unanimous vote of the city council, Berkeley, Calif., medical marijuana dispensaries will now be required to provide 2 percent of their pot for free to low-income patients, CBS San Francisco reports.
The city council meeting, which also amended medical marijuana rules to permit a fourth marijuana dispensary in the area, found it necessary to mandate that pot be provided at no cost to low-income users.
In foreseeing potential technicalities that would arise as a result of the new rule, the council also stipulated in its ordinance that, “medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average” as what is provided to paying customers.
“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.
Additionally, the council tasked the Planning Commission with looking at a future option of having up to six licensed dispensaries, as there is a widely held belief that there is a demand for more.
Charles Pappas, a member of Berkeley’s Medical Cannabis Commission, concurred strongly, according to CBS San Francisco.
“There’s definitely a need for more dispensaries in Berkeley,” Pappas said. “This was really important.”
The decision comes in the midst of legal battles initiated by the federal government, which is attempting to shut down the dispensary run by the Berkeley Patients Group. The court will hear the upcoming case this winter, which is not promising for Berkeley, given the success of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s efforts in San Francisco. So far, around 11 dispensaries have been forced to close in the Bay Area.
“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness… it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.
Meanwhile, the Berkeley City Council decision has not yet been finalized, and is awaiting approval. If granted, the ordinance will become law in August.
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