Op-Ed: Fox News' Bill O'Reilly mocks Berkeley's free medical marijuana

Posted Jul 11, 2014 by Brett Wilkins
Displaying characteristically staggering (wilfull?) ignorance, Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly hosted a panel mocking a California city's compassionate decision to provide free medical marijuana to low and no-income residents.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and members of the City Council address a May  2013 rally in support of loc...
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and members of the City Council address a May, 2013 rally in support of local medical marijuana dispensary Berkeley Patients Group (BPG).
On Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a landmark measure requiring the city's medical marijuana dispensaries to give at least two percent of their cannabis to local residents who earn less than $32,000 per year, and families of four who earn no more than $46,000. The median income in the affluent Bay Area city is more than $62,000; for families, more than $102,000.
Berkeley's move has been praised by just about everyone who can empathize with sick, poor people finally getting access to what is sometimes life-saving medicine they could once ill afford (a gram of medical marijuana costs around $15), in a land without universal health care that lets 45,000 of its own citizens die each year for lack of medical coverage.
In other words, this ordinance is a bold, humane step forward, an example that will surely inspire countless other progressive cities and towns around the nation and the world.
But for the folks at Fox, Berkeley's compassion was just another opportunity to take some cheap shots at one of the most progressive — and successful — places in America. Appearing on The O'Reilly Factor on Thursday, Fox host Greg Gutfeld, Fox contributor Bernard McGuirk and host Bill O'Reilly entered into a fierce competition to determine who could appear the most ignorant about medical marijuana,
"It's discrimination," Gutfeld said of the Berkeley law. "What about drunks? Why can't I get free booze in Berkeley?"
Let's see: because you're not a Berkeley resident, your net worth is $2 million and, since you seem so clueless, marijuana is life-saving medicine (in more ways than are immediately obvious) while alcohol is poison that kills 88,000 Americans every year.
"You don't give pot to homeless, jobless people," added Gutfeld. "That's not going to get them to go to Kinko's to put their resumé."
Ah, but for many people suffering from debilitating ailments for which medical marijuana provides relief — and all that entails — that medicine provides the precious gift of mobility that allows them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
But for O'Reilly and his ilk, it's far easier to mock "Berzerkeley" and "San Francisco values."
Gutfeld suggested giving homeless people "some meth, maybe Adderall" instead of medical marijuana, and then predicted that "people who are living on the streets and who are high are inevitably going to get the munchies, and then your pets are going to go missing."
"This is so insane," said O'Reilly — not the idea of homeless people devouring maltipoos, but rather the idea of putting people first by providing for their essential health care needs.
"They're forcing the businessman to pay up," said Gutfeld of the law's requirement that medical marijuana dispensaries give away at least two percent of their medicine each year.
But nobody had to "force" Berkeley Patients Group (BPG), arguably the most prominent dispensary in the Bay Area, to donate their medicine. As part of their Helping Hands program, they've been giving the stuff out for free since opening their doors back in 1999.
This all proved too much for O'Reilly and company to grasp.
"Why would you want to live there?" O'Reilly asked about Berkeley.
No particular reason, I suppose, except that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most vibrant, creative, diverse, intelligent, successful and naturally beautiful places on earth. Many of us would never dream of living anywhere else. And frankly, we're glad the likes of Bill O'Reilly shun us. Regressives live in the shadows here, and we're all much better off for that.