Berkeley Spreads the Wealth: Free Pot for the Poor
A new law in Berkeley, California requires medical marijuana dispensaries to donate at least 2 percent of their weed to low-income residents in the city.
The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to pass the first-of-its-kind legislation earlier this summer, according to the New York Times. Candidates for the free pot must be Berkeley residents and show proof of income of less than $32,000 a year.
However, despite the enthusiasm of the City Council, others, like California Narcotic Officer's Association lobbyist John Lovell, were quick to criticize the new policy.
"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,'" Lovell told the Times. "I don't see anything progressive about that."
Marijuana prices vary greatly from city to city in California; while high-quality strains generally sell for about $50 for an eighth of an ounce, dispensaries in the San Fernando Valley and parts of Los Angeles sell eighths for $30. According to PriceOfWeed.com, a "global price index for marijuana," the average price for an ounce of high-quality marijuana in California is $245.08.
Berkeley mayor Tom Bates told the Times that prices could be prohibitively expensive for those who need marijuana for medical reasons.
"There are some truly compassionate cases that need to have medical marijuana," he said. "But it's expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer that don't have the money."
Some Berkeley residents, including the mayor, see the new legislation as a precursor to full legalization of marijuana in California. Mayor Bates told the Times that California is seeing an "evolution towards full legalization," an evolution that is not quite complete but is nevertheless coming soon.