Berkeley City Council mandates free medical marijuana for low-income patients

Berkeley City Council mandates free medical marijuana for low-income patients

The Berkeley City Council in California has unanimously approved the controversial new welfare program that would make it compulsory for medical marijuana dispensaries to donate a percentage of their supply to low-income people who qualify to use the drug as a medicine.

Under the welfare program, medical marijuana dispensaries will have to donate 2 per cent of their total supply of the weed to low-income patients, who make less than $32,000 a year.

Supporters of the measure described the program as a community program. Mason Tvert, communications director at the Marijuana Policy Project, said that the decision to provide the weed to low-income patients was up to the community.

But, critics argued that the city council was trying to dump pot on the poverty-stricken and under-served people.

Former addict Bishop Ron Allen, who is now the head of the International Faith Based Coalition, said, "It's ludicrous, over-the-top madness. 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.'"

The measure, which is the first of its kind in the United States, emerged at a time when many states of the country are debating how to handle growing demands for legalizing marijuana for medical as well as recreational purposes.

The new 'welfare weed' program in the liberal-leaning Berkeley City is scheduled to take effect in August 2015.

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