We're Giving Free Pot to the Poor, Says California City

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: August 12, 2014 3:55 AM
California medical marijuana product

California medical marijuana product

While Florida awaits a referendum and dithers with its own medical marijuana law, one small California city is trying to lead the nation in compassionate distribution of the "miracle" plant.

Berkeley is going to give the product away to the poor.

It's true. The City Council of Berkeley, Calif., just passed an ordinance that requires medical marijuana dispensaries to set aside 2 percent of their product for “low income” individuals and families. Recipients, who must be Berkeley residents and make less than $32,000 a year ($46,000 for families of four) will receive the marijuana completely free of charge.

"That's the craziest thing I ever heard of," said Janelle Freeman, an Ocala mother of three who is opposed to marijuana of any sort being made legal in Florida. Leave it to California. "There are so many medicines out there that are tried and true and tested, and they certainly aren't free. How does pot get put ahead of all the others?"

According to examiner.com, which first reported the Berkeley story Monday, the bold move is the first of its kind in the world, and "shows that a city government acknowledges that marijuana is a medicine so potent and important that access to it needs to be ensured."

"It isn't right to get people's hopes up that some euphoric garden weed is suddenly going to cure everything they've got," said Freeman, who said she's begun to mobilize other mothers in opposition in Central and coastal Florida. "After all this hype, I don't know how we're going to keep our children safe and sober. I'm honestly afraid for them and for all of society."

Numerous studies have shown marijuana to be effective in treating dozens of serious conditions, from intractable epilepsy to virtually all forms of cancer to chronic illnesses like Lyme Disease. California doctors claim it's increasingly credited with causing "miracle" cures. 

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of California, which passed Proposition 215 in 1996. But the price of pot there remains high. An ounce of high-quality marijuana goes for around $400, and a gram costs about $15, according to the site weedmaps.com, which also shows the location of Berkeley’s legal marijuana dispensaries.

In approving the ordinance, city fathers argued that for low-income people with chronic illnesses who medicate with the herb, Berkeley's going prices can become barriers to access.

Those who qualify for free pot need a California medical marijuana card. Officially, the card is only given to those diagnosed with one of the 11 conditions approved by the California Department of Public Health. But the list also allows potential eligibility for anyone who suffers from a medical issue that could be classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. "This has opened up legal cannabis treatment to a wide range of patients -- in reality the medical marijuana card is quite easy to obtain," says examiner.com.

It doesn't make Janelle Freeman feel any better that Berkeley has only three legal dispensaries, which means the total amount of free pot will be limited. Nor does she take comfort that recipients also must provide a federal tax return or other proof of income before they are approved for the program.

"Thank God in our state the Florida Medical Association is dead set against the easy availability of medical marijuana," Freeman said.

But not all Floridians, including doctors, agree with the state medical association's position. One doctor in particular has said, "Willfully denying medicine we know works would be a violation of our oath."

Anne Lynn Morgan, M.D., of West Palm Beach, who has practiced family medicine for 29 years, is openly challenging the FMA for opposing Amendment 2. She claims there are many flaws in the association's logic -- "but one that particularly sticks out is their assertion that it would 'allow health care providers with absolutely no training in the ordering of controlled substances to order medical marijuana.'"

"Seriously?" she asks. "Florida allows physicians, such as myself, with a DEA Registration to order deadly, harmful, and addictive controlled substances for their patients, but it doubts our training to recommend something as relatively benign as marijuana to those who qualify?

"In fact, under Amendment 2, it may be far more difficult and complicated to recommend medical marijuana than Oxycontin or other highly addictive and deadly narcotics."

Morgan would no doubt acknowledge Florida's acceptance of medical marijuana is light years behind California's. But, hard as Freeman is working to bring awareness to her argument against it, Morgan is working just as hard to bring the state medical community to what she considers an important realization.

"The same organization that defended the doctor's right to prescribe large-scale pharmaceutical narcotics (that have killed and addicted thousands of Floridians)," Morgan says, "now wants to block a doctor's right to recommend medical marijuana, which has never killed even one person, and instead provides relief to those suffering from the effects of caustic treatments for cancer, AIDS, and HepC, while helping to treat epilepsy, severe neuropathic pain, PTSD, Crohn's Disease and other serious ailments and conditions."

Morgan makes her case and asks for help on the website UnitedforCare.org.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

Comments (7)

12:53PM AUG 14TH 2014
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8:50AM AUG 13TH 2014
Witchdoctor recommend SOMA for all of Berkeley.
8:41AM AUG 12TH 2014
California, Wash and Col thank you for keeping prices high and the $$$$ rolling WEST, filling any order at anytime...thanks a trillion (dollar$)

we get rich while you get locked up, #merica
8:40AM AUG 12TH 2014
the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING! 13

"any doctor against marijuana is a doctor of death" - cali secret 420

from 0 states to half the country, from low 20% approval to almost 70%, cali runs this planet by 2 decades, time to tie marijuana to the 2014, 2016 elections, out with the old, in with the new

20 years behind us southern states, sad and scary....nobody denies freedoms like the south, nobody…the top ten incarcerators on the planet are southern states...even if marijuana reforms did pass the republiCANTS in charge would deny you all your freedoms, centuries of practice...no matter though, we never planned on getting your backwards brethren from day one, half the country already but not one southern state, lol...not 1….the new generations are taking over in the south and they are nothing like their freedom denying parents, let’s ride…

Deaths by Alcohol: Millions
Deaths by Tobacco: Millions
Deaths by Prescription Drugs: Quadrupled in last decade
Deaths by Guns: Millions
Deaths by the food we are fed: Millions
Deaths by Marijuana: 0, ever...they are killing my American family while denying freedom

love and freedom forever

Hugh Yonn
6:46AM AUG 12TH 2014
This plant has been wrongfully outlawed since 1937...
Around the same time 'stupid pills' made such a terrific hit...among 'our' legislators...
6:36AM AUG 12TH 2014
Seems most of those opposed to medical marijuana lose sight of the truth. All too often they are glad to use lies and half-truths in their cause. Why do so many conservatives violate the principles of "Personal Rights, Personal Liberties and Personal Choice"? One rabid anti-MM supporter even ranted that others use of medical marijuana was a violation of her Constitutional Rights, while ignoring that those rights must be applied equally. Amendment 2 does protect Doctors and Patients form arrest while allowing the state of Florida to regulate the industry. The bare bones method will allow the state to address items of concern, while protecting those that will benefit. Please Vote YES on 2. For The Patients! Thank You
5:25AM AUG 12TH 2014
It is unfortunate that Janelle Freeman has the uncanny inability to distinguish the difference between "cure" and ease of pain. Not one person has EVER stated any such thing that marijuana would be a "cure". The FACT is, marijuana would EASE feelings of pain and discomfort brought about by the disease the patient suffers from. Thankfully, Ms Freeman does not hold any position of authority from which to make a decision or cast a vote in Tallahassee for/against medical marijuana.
Ms Freeman is the perfect example of what the great state of Florida has suffered with for more that 25/30 years that can be recalled. Complete ignorance of the facts. Instead of "feelings" one must consider the facts above all. Are there possibilities of abuse of the system? Of course, just look at the Food Stamp, medicaid, and other welfare programs within the State of Florida! But they continue to dispense the "freebies" so that the greater majority can benefit. That same factor applies here. Strict enforcement of laws is always necessary and responsibility of violations should force those offenders to be accountable. Meanwhile, open a small space in your hearts and allow those patients to be free of pain, even if only for the duration of the affect of the marijuana doseage. Thankfully, the vast majority of voters have the common sense to recognize the real and true values of medical marijuana.

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