Berkeley, Calif., close to mandating dispensaries give pot to the poor for free

BERKELEY, Calif. — Pot dispensaries in Berkeley, Calif., could soon be required to give away some of their stash — to the poor — after the City Council approved the ordinance.

“Basically the City Council wants to make sure that low income, homeless, indigent folks have access to their medical marijuana, their medicine,” said Councilman Darryl Moore, who is behind the free giveaway.

The ordinance would mandate dispensaries to set aside 2 percent of the cannabis they sell each year and give it to low-income patients for free. Not only that, it has to be the same high-quality marijuana given to regular-paying customers.

“Medical cannabis can be very expensive,” Moore said. “And so we think this is the responsible thing to do for those who are less fortunate in our community.”

The Berkeley Patients Group already gives out free cannabis to the poor and has for 15 years.

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

But some don’t think giving marijuana to the low-income and homeless was a good idea.

“It’s a big deal because it could get into the wrong hands,” one woman said.

But others say it’s a good idea. One that might be highly controversial elsewhere but isn’t drawing too much opposition in Berkeley.

The measure is expected to get final approval next week.