When six-year-old Charlee Nelson died earlier this year waiting for the Utah legislature to pass a law allowing her family access to cannabis oil, she left the marijuana community with a heavy heart. Most advocates agree there should never be a reason to deny anyone the right to use medicine that has the potential to improve their overall quality of life, especially where children are concerned.

Unfortunately, legal access is not always the problem. Even in states where medical marijuana has been approved, patients suffering from debilitating and life-threatening conditions can find it difficult to obtain CBD oil simply because of the overall cost involved.

“We have people that are spending up to a couple hundred bucks per week,” said Dave Spradlin, co-director of two Northern California medical marijuana dispensaries -- Magnolia Wellness and River City Phoenix. “The treatment is expensive and not usually covered by insurance.”

However, Spradlin says that lack of money or insurance should never be an issue when it comes to obtaining medicine. That is why beginning next week both dispensaries will launch a new program to provide patients with this costly cannabis extract free of charge.

“All they have to do is bring their doctor’s note, proof of their ailment and we’ll put them on the program,” said Spradlin. “They can come in whenever they want and get their medicine, and as long as the medicine is helping, we’ll keep giving it to them.”

The dispensaries, located in Oakland and Sacramento, have operated what Spradlin calls “compassion programs” since 2009, providing patients suffering from conditions ranging from HIV/AIDS to cancer with complimentary medicine. He says that in light of recent media attention on children suffering from seizures, a number of his patients suggested extending the program to include epilepsy and CBD oil.
“That’s what we’re here for,” said Spradlin, who adds that it is through the generosity and support of others that allows his dispensaries to provide these types of no cost programs. “People really don’t mind supporting it,” he said. “People are constantly donating money so we can fund these kinds of programs for people who really need it. It’s been great to see how people have rallied together for this kind of thing.”