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Berkeley To Force Marijuana Dispensaries To Provide Free Weed For Low-Income Patients

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Medical marijuana at a dispensary. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Medical marijuana at a dispensary. (David McNew/Getty Images)

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BERKELEY (CBS SF) — The city of Berkeley will require medical marijuana dispensaries to give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year free to low-income patients.

The City Council voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to amend the city’s medical pot rules, which would also allow for a fourth dispensary in Berkeley.
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“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 Councilmember 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.

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