berkeley free marijuana poor

September 8, 2014

BERKELEY – The city of Berkeley in the northern California bay area has signed into law a requirement that all Berkeley dispensaries are to set aside some of their total marijuana sales for free disbursement to the poor whom also carry a medicinal marijuana card.

How much is some? 2%

How is “poor” defined? Residents earning less than $32,000 per year ($46,000 for a family)

As is to be expected, this legislation is hugely divisive. Conservative Bishop Ron Allen called this “ludicrous, over-the-top madness” on Fox News.

Berkeley locals however, and those who this will affect the greatest (the dispensaries themselves) are often on board.

Sean Luse, COO of Berkeley Patients Group dispensary, said “we do this on our own, so we certainly welcome the city mandating that all dispensaries create these sorts of programs”. He did add that he believed a more appropriate percentage would have been 1 rather than 2 though.

The law passed unanimously by the city council, an indication both of the liberal features of the group but also of the compelling arguments they heard on behalf of the mandate.

Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore explained to CBS news that “basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine.”

Accepting this rationale means also accepting that medical marijuana is truly a medical treatment, something of a controversy already. It also has the appearance of a socialist ideologue, though it works through capitalist means.

When speaking with the NY Times, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said that “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.”

With a statement like that, we can say that the mark of the success of this law will rely upon the success it has on distributing to those in need rather simply than those who make less than $32,000/year and have a medical marijuana card.

A concern many will probably have is that almost all students will fall into the financial requirement, and many will have or can easily obtain their medical marijuana card. So should students at the University of California at Berkeley for instance, be entitled to receive free marijuana under this law? The answer can’t simply be ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Some students with their medical card will certainly be in need of the drug for a medical condition. Others still will have it only as a matter of recreational convenience.

How can we distinguish between them? The unfortunate truth is, without reformed requirements for receiving the license in the first place, we can’t.

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