Berkeley, California orders free pot for poor patients

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Berkeley, California orders free pot for poor patients
BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: One-ounce bags of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late Wednesday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: Samples of medicinal marijuana are displayed at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late yesterday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
BERKELEY, CA - MARCH 25: Medicinal marijuana user Dave Karp smokes marijuana at the Berkeley Patients Group March 25, 2010 in Berkeley, California. California Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a ballot initiative late yesterday to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana in the State of California after proponents of the measure submitted over 690,000 signatures. The measure will appear on the November 2 general election ballot. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kief, pressed into a cake of hashish, is placed on a sclale by a vendor weighing it for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Card-carrying medical marijuana patients attend Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A vendor weighs buds for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Vendors and growers prepare their displays for card-carrying medical marijuana patients attending Los Angeles' first-ever cannabis farmer's market at the West Coast Collective medical marijuana dispensary, on the fourth of July, or Independence Day, in Los Angeles, California on July 4, 2014 where organizer's of the 3-day event plan to showcase high quality cannabis from growers and vendors throughout the state. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - A California college town known for its liberal activism has voted to make medicinal marijuana dispensaries give away free a small amount of their pot to the poor.

Berkeley City Council members voted unanimously late on Tuesday to instruct local outlets to provide marijuana equal to 2 percent of their sales to patients on low incomes.

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

Under the law, which takes effect next month, the marijuana given away free must be of the same quality as that given to paying customers.

The rule defines low income as medical marijuana patients who make at most half the area's median annual income, or $32,000 or less for an individual or $46,000 for a family of four.

The council also amended its medical marijuana law to increase the number of pot dispensaries to four from three, and will consider upping that number to six next year.

Medicinal pot is a significant industry in Berkeley where the dispensaries paid nearly $640,000 in city taxes last fiscal year, according to official records.

Charles Pappas, a member of the city's Medical Cannabis Commission, said residents wanted to take care of each other.

"Our mantra is, 'The best medicine for the lowest possible cost for people in need,'" he said.

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