The Council of the City of Berkeley voted on July 1, 2014 to amend various sections of the Berkeley municipal code regarding medical marijuana dispensaries. All nine members of the council were in universal agreement when they voted aye in requiring the three present dispensaries to distribute free medical marijuana to patients of low income status.
12.27.080 Medical cannabis for low income Members
A. At least 2% (by weight) of the annual amount of Medical Cannabis provided by a
Dispensary to all Members, shall be provided at no cost to very low-income Members
who are Berkeley residents. This amount shall be calculated every six months, based
on the amount dispensed during the immediately preceding six months. Medical
Cannabis provided under this Section shall be the same quality on average as Medical
Cannabis that is dispensed to other members.
B. For purposes of this Section, income shall be verified using federal income tax
returns or other reliable method approved by the City Manager.
C. For purposes this Section, “very low income” shall mean the household income
established by the most recent annual City Council resolution that establishes the
maximum income levels for qualification for exemption from specified local taxes and
The definition of 'very low income' is $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four, according to nbcbayarea.com. One may wish to quibble that a mere $14,000 separates a single person from a family responsible for feeding and clothing four members, but that is an issue for a different article. As it sits all Berkeley dispensaries will be required to give away 2% of their total stock. The ordinance stipulates that the level of quality must be the same as the marijuana sold to paying customers, but penalties are not described. What exactly will happen to a dispensary owner who hands out schwag marijuana as freebies to save their 'good stuff' for high end clientele?