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California Town Approves Medical Marijuana Welfare to Low Income Patients

First Posted: Sep 05, 2014 11:57 AM EDT

California long has been considered progressive when it comes to marijuana laws, but a town in the state recently approved a measure that basically creates marijuana welfare.

The Berkeley City Council last month unanimously approved a law that requires medicinal marijuana dispensaries to donate 2 percent of their supply to patients who earn less than $32,000 per year, according to a report from Fox News.

Berkeley's weed welfare program is the first of its kind in the U.S. and will take effect in August 2015. Several states across the country are in the process of figuring out how to answer the marijuana question, both medically and recreationally.

The new policy has drawn ire from groups, who say they don't think that marijuana redistribution will solve any issues.

Bishop Ron Allen, head of the International Faith Based Coalition and a former drug addict, said he doesn't get why the Berkeley council members think it wise to give weed to the poor.

"It's ludicrous, over-the-top madness," Allen said. "Why would Berkeley City Council want to keep their poverty-stricken under-served high, in poverty and lethargic?"

"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,'" John Lovell, lobbyist for the California Narcotic Officers' Association, told The New York Times.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said the city's aim was to create equal access to marijuana for all the city's residents, stressing that the drug is used as medicine.

"There are some truly compassionate cases that need to have medical marijuana," Bates said. "But it's expensive. You hear stories about people dying from cancer who don't have the money."

By law, California marijuana dispensaries are not allowed to make a profit and some stores have been giving weed to the poor for years.

Berkeley Patients Group, one of the largest dispensaries in the city, has been partaking in weed welfare for 10 years. California legalized medicinal marijuana almost 20 years ago and was the first state to do so.

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