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Berkeley Dispensaries Must Give Free Weed to Low-Income Patients

photo via KQED

In a landmark decision to serve the underprivileged of the East Bay, the Berkeley City Council UNANIMOUSLY voted last week to provide small amounts of free medical marijuana to low-income and homeless patients. Whoa.

According to the new ordinance, dispensaries in the area must give away weed equal to at least 2 percent of their sales to the appropriate demographic—defined as half the area’s median annual income: $32,000 or less for an individual and $46,000 for a family of four.

"It's an equity issue," council member Darryl Moore explained to Reuters. "We want to ensure that those who are in need have access to the medication necessary to treat their condition."

Plus, the freebies can’t be schwag weed. The law includes a clause that the “medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average as marijuana dispensed to other members.”

But don’t think you can just walk up to any dispensary's window with an empty hand and expect to get irie goods; only card-carrying patients with prescriptions will have dibs on free mary jane.

"It’s about the best medicine for the lowest possible cost for people in need,” Charles Pappas, a member of the city’s Medical Cannabis Commission, added.

Although the decision has received a lot of attention over the past week, it’s nothing new for Berkeley. In fact, the Berkeley Patient has been doling out free cannabis to the poor for more than 15 years.  

As part of the vote, the city also increased the number of dispensaries allowed from three to four, and will consider amending it to six by the end of 2015. The ordinance will not become law until final approval in August.