Why is Berkeley Giving Free Marijuana to the Poor?

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

The City Council in Berkeley, California voted to pass an ordinance that would require dispensaries to provide medical marijuana (MMJ) for low income patients. Municipal Code Section 12.27.080 would also allow for a fourth certified dispensary to open in the city.

To qualify as a low income patient the maximum annual income is $32,000, or $46,000 for a family of four. That is not only homeless people in the Bay Area college town, although Berkeley is notorious for their loose regulations on sleeping in the park. Income restrictions are based on established levels. Anyone exempt from local taxes and fees qualifies.

To qualify as a low income patient the maximum annual income is $32,000, or $46,000 for a family of four.

Sean Luse, Chief Operations Officer at Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), told the press, “We’ve found out over the years that one of the cruel realities is that when you do get sick… 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.”

One of Berkeley’s three MMJ collectives, BPG is currently under federal investigation.

Charles Pappas is the Berkeley City Council’s Medical Marijuana Commissioner. He noted that he was considering as many as six dispensaries in the community, however the council indicated this might be too much too soon. Pappas told the East Bay Express, “There’s definitely a need for more dispensaries in Berkeley. This was really important.”

The San Francisco Bay Area was one of the first places to allow MMJ with the passage of the Compassionate Care Act in 1996.The San Francisco Bay Area was one of the first places to allow MMJ with the passage of the Compassionate Care Act in 1996. Recently U.S. Attorney General Melinda Haag had 11 pot collectives in San Francisco shut down. But there are still dozens in the city, as well as in Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley.

Meanwhile in San Jose, MMJ dispensaries are also offering free marijuana, but it’s not to the homeless. Community members that voted in the San Jose municipal election qualified for free bud at participating cooperatives. To verify they had to present their ballot stub or an “I Voted” sticker.

Dave Hodges of the Silicon Valley Cannabis Coalition noted, “A lot of people don’t know about the primary elections. We have some important races… and we want to make sure politicians know the power of our voters.”


Also Read: Will Marijuana Prohibition Save the World?

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