Berkeley has gone full California with its latest decision requiring medical marijuana dispensaries to give away at least 2% of their product to low income patients making less than $32,000 a year.
The ordinance passed last month, and barring any hurdles will go into effect in August 2015. Reactions have been predictably mixed:
Bishop Ron Allen, a former addict and head of the International Faith Based Coalition, told Fox News he doesn’t understand why the California city would want to dump pot on the impoverished.
“It’s ludicrous, over-the-top madness,” Allen said. “Why would Berkeley City Council want to keep their poverty-stricken under-served high, in poverty and lethargic?”
John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Narcotic Officers’ Association, agrees.
“Instead of taking steps to help the most economically vulnerable residents get out of that state, the city has said, ‘Let’s just get everybody high,’” Lovell told The New York Times.
But others, like Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, say it’s a community program.
Tvert told Fox News that the decision to provide the drug to some of its low-income residents is up to the community.
“So it’s a matter of the democratic process, people following the state’s laws, and this law appears to accommodate both of those,” he said.
California dispensaries are prohibited by law from turning a profit, and some proprietors have already embraced the new program in one way or another. California legalized medical marijuana 20 years ago, and some dispensaries made the choice years ago to willingly donate portions of their product.
Whether or not legalizing medical marijuana is a good or bad idea is beside the point. The state of California has already mandated that the legal trade of medical marijuana isn’t permitted to actually make proprietors any money, and now the city of Berkeley wants to force them to give their product away—even though some shops have already made the business decision to do it on their own.
Berkeley claims that the purpose of this program is to ensure equal access to a medicine that lawmakers have decided is appropriate for mass use.
Almost anyone with $40 to spare can find a doctor who will prescribe cannabis to treat insomnia or migraines or low appetite or something else (but especially insomnia).
Yet, because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, insurance companies refuse to cover such treatments, which can run to hundreds of dollars per ounce for designer strains like All Star Sonoma Coma at local dispensaries.
The Obama Administration set the standard for redistribution of medical treatment with the Affordable Care Act, and it’s clear that dispensaries in Berkeley have set a standard in their community that encourages proprietors to distribute their product without charge.
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