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Published on September 8th, 2014 | by News Feed

California Makes Plans to Launch New Weed Welfare Program

Medical marijuana is a life-saving remedy for thousands of people in the United States. But what about those that can’t afford the cannabis they need? Local lawmakers in Berkeley, California, came up with a new idea to help patients get their medical marijuana at no cost. It’s the birth of weed welfare and it is set to begin in 2015.

In July, the city council voted unanimously to adopt the program, but Mayor Tom Bates pushed for the issue to be considered at a second reading before the city made any official move. Recently, the council convened again to reconsider the issue and once again, it was unanimous. Starting next year, all medical marijuana dispensaries will be required to donate 2 percent of their inventory to low-income patients with medical marijuana cards.

So who can cash in on this new welfare weed? As long as you have a legal medical marijuana prescription and earn no more than $32,000 per year as a single or $46,000 per year as a family, then you are eligible. At this point, Berkeley’s three licensed dispensaries will be the only businesses directly impacted, but operators say they are already providing no-cost marijuana to patients showing true financial need.

At Berkeley Patients Cooperative, Eric Miller said they have been giving away free weed to patients for 13 years. The only question is whether they have been giving out the minimum requirement of 2 percent. “We have never kept track of it, but I guess we will now,” Miller remarked. While there have been no objections from the dispensaries about helping those in need, Miller did have some concerns about the required paper trail. Keeping track of each person that receives free cannabis and the amount dispensed will be a time-consuming new requirement.

At nearby House of Compassion Dispensary, the owners already give away one pound of weed every week. They break up this allotted marijuana into 3.5 gram packets and distribute them each Monday to patients that offer proof that they are currently receiving state welfare benefits and have a medical marijuana card. House of Compassion claims that the weekly pound exceeds the new 2 percent requirement.

In a nation where a growing number of people are relying on government assistance for groceries, cell phones, housing, and healthcare, this is just one more way that Berkeley is working to care for their community’s unique needs. But is it really a good idea? While it sounds really nice to provide free medical marijuana in theory, it could create a major rush to capitalize on this brand new legal freebie. What do you think of the concept of Weed Welfare?

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