Originally published September 8 2014
Dispensaries must give out free medical marijuana to low-income prescription holders, Berkeley City Council says
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) Any actions forwarding medical marijuana or cannabis is bound to be met with derisive comments that portray anyone who uses pot for any reason as a deadbeat, a "stoner," contributing to ripping our social fabric and moral fiber. The UK's Daily Mail certainly did a decent job of selling that tone. Bishop Ron Allen of the Sacramento, California-based International Faith Based Coalition went even further.
As a former hard drug addict, Bishop Allen is unable to distinguish the differences between addictive pharmaceutical opioids, heroine, cocaine, crack and medical cannabis that had been legal up until the late 1930s when corporate and financial interests with high-level political connections shut down the American Medical Association's use of medicinal marijuana or cannabis. He has railed against any legalization of marijuana for medical use for years.
So while some may conjure images of street people staggering into approved medical cannabis dispensaries and demanding their dope for the day, let's examine the Berkeley City Council's mandate, its requirements, the environment and social milieu. You could call it a reality check.
The Berkeley "welfare weed" details
The Berkeley campus of the University of California system (UC Berkeley) was probably the hottest publicized hotbed of 1960s social activism in the USA. Besides burning draft cards, there were early feminists burning bras. It was probably the foundation of the San Francisco Bay Area's hippie movement, lots of rock and roll and pot. All of which was disgusting to "the establishment," as it was known in those days.
Berkeley is located on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay, which is crossed over on the lengthy double-deck Oakland Bay Bridge. The shorter-length but more glamorous Golden Gate Bridge connects north San Francisco to Sausalito and Marin County. This is a compact, densely populated area.
South of Berkeley is Oakland, the county seat of Alameda County, population 1.5 million-plus. Berkeley's population is typical college town-sized, a little over 115,000. Why all these details? First, to understand the limitations of Berkeley's medical cannabis dispensary freebies. They are limited to medical marijuana card holders that are Berkeley residents only.
The state medical marijuana card is not mandatory, but it keeps one from being arrested for possession in the first place. Those other cards or prescriptions will hold up for a medical defense in courts, thanks to California's Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215), which supports a medical defense as long as there are prescriptions for it.
The financial parameters for this city council's decision are reasonable, considering the San Francisco metropolitan area's high cost of living, among the priciest in the nation, with the annual median household income for Berkeley alone at $65,887 as of 2012.
The most that a household income can be for free medical cannabis is $46,000, while an individual's annual income cannot exceed $32,000, compared to the per capita annual income of $42,937 for the same year. Both of those lower income levels also allow those folks exemptions from paying annual local taxes as well.
Now the three licensed medical marijuana vendors are required to set aside 2 percent of their stash for those who are financially needy. Other cannabis-delivery services are not bound to the 2 percent rule.
Eric Miller of the Berkeley Patients Cooperative (BPC) told TheBlaze that they have been giving low-income and needy patients free marijuana ever since they opened their doors 13 years ago. Regarding the 2 percent minimum required by the city council, Miller said, "We have never kept track of it, but I guess we will now."
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