Berkeley grants free medical marijuana to low income patients

A unanimous vote cast by Berkeley City Council members on Jul. 8 has passed a law that will require dispensaries in Berkeley, California to provide free medical marijuana to low income patients.

Starting in August, dispensaries will be required to set aside two percent of their products to be given to those who qualify based upon income to receive free medical marijuana as part of their treatment plan. The law requires that the quality of the marijuana remain consistent, whether it is given for free or to paying customers.

The purpose of the law is to allow equal access to medical marijuana for patients who need it. The debilitating nature of most ailments treated, in part, with the cannabis plant, often leave patients unable to ensure their financial security. This law will help curb their medical costs while allowing them continued treatment.

According to the law, patients will be granted free medical marijuana in Berkeley if they qualify for a low income status. Qualification for this status is determined if the patient makes less than half of the median income for the area. The equates to making less than around $32,000 for a single person household and $46,000 for a four person household.

Another aspect of the law will be to add a fourth dispensary to the area while leaving room for consideration to further increase that number to six in the next year. Already the industry is thriving in Berkeley, where dispensaries are reported to have paid $640,000 in tax revenue to the city.