Beginning in August 2015, medical marijuana dispensaries across Berkeley will be required to donate at least 2% of their cannabis to low-income residents, who often find that they cannot afford to take advantage of medical marijuana because it’s not covered by insurance companies, according to The New York Times.
The City Council unanimously approved the requirement this summer with the hope of making marijuana as a medicine affordable for all residents. The market price of medically grown marijuana averages around $400 an ounce at dispensaries, which makes it far out of range for low-income, unemployed or terminally ill patients, who often have to survive on a small budgets. According to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), at least 6-million households in the state live with incomes below the federal poverty level – which equal about $23,000 for a family of four. So if one of those family members gets terminally ill, medical marijuana could be an option for pain management and other symptoms — but the insurance companies won’t cover it, so buying it legally might cost more than buying an unregulated, impure batch of weed on the street.
Of course, critics came out of the woodwork to denounce the move, saying it’s just a pass for the sickest and poorest residents to get stoned. Police who are anti-medical marijuana appear to be don’t have clue about the painful, debilitating conditions such as brain tumors, cancers, and other progressive illnesses that cause patients to turn to medical marijuana after the other medication they try don’t work. They should totally get jobs, or make more money, suggested John Lovell, a lobbyist for the California Narcotic Officers’ Association, “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.’ ” Mr. Lovell believes the free marijuana would ruin patients’ motivation to look for work.
“I don’t see anything progressive about that,” Mr. Lovell said.
Besides being a total buzzkill, Lovell completely ignores an entire group of medical marijuana users — people who are only taking medical marijuana for end of life pain management.
Tom Bates, the mayor of Berkeley, is pretty sure that the city’s doing the poor a good turn for these people.
“There are some truly compassionate cases that need to have medical marijuana,” Mr. Bates said. “But it’s expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer who don’t have the money.”
The measure for free marijuana for the city’s neediest aims to solve that problem.