Updated 07:44 AM EDT, Sat, Apr 10, 2021

Berkeley Dispensaries to Provide Free Medical Marijuana to Homeless, Indigent Cannabis Patients

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The city of Berkeley will now require medical marijuana dispensaries to give free marijuana to low-income cannabis patients.

According to CBS San Francisco, a unanimous vote by city council on Tuesday passed amendments that require medical marijuana dispensaries to give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year to homeless, low-income or otherwise indigent patients.

The amendments will also allow for a fourth dispensary to open, allot for new testing and quality measures, and set new hours of operation for the dispensaries. Berkeley currently has three permitted dispensaries. 

Back in 2010, voters approved Measure T, which allowed for a fourth dispensary. A federal crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries like Berkeley Patients Group delayed the implementation of Measure T, however.

According to Berkeleyside,"Just a few weeks ago, Mayor Tom Bates said the political environment, with the federal government cracking down on medical marijuana operations, made it too uncertain for Berkeley to go forward with an additional dispensary.

"But other council members felt the city had already taken a long time to approve the fourth dispensary and it shouldn't be postponed any longer."

The dispensaries will not only be required to pass out free pot to very low-income patients, but they will also be required to provide marijuana that is the same quality that is dispensed to regular, paying customers.

"Basically, the city council wants to make sure that low-income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine," said Berkeley City Councilmember Darryl Moore.

One of the Berkeley marijuana dispensaries that will be affected by the proposed change -- the Berkeley Patients Group -- already gives out free cannabis to the poor, and has for the last 15 years. 

"We've found out over the years that one of the cruel realities is that when you do get sick and you have a serious illness is that it's often hard to keep a job, can be hard to keep your income up, so those people really need the help the most," said Sean Luse of Berkeley Patients Group. 

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