Feds Force Another San Francisco Pot Club to Close

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Times they did a-change.
Pressure from the Justice Department is forcing a fourth San Francisco medical marijuana dispensary to close early next year, with a fifth closure expected soon thereafter.

Market Street Cooperative -- one of the city's lowest-profile cannabis dispensaries, with a modest sign outside its 1884 Market location -- will close at 7 p.m. on Jan. 9, its operators announced Thursday.

The dispensary's landlord received a letter from U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag in November warning of property forfeiture and criminal penalties if the dispensary continued to "distribute illegal drugs." Similar letters sent in September prodded three dispensaries to close in early November. A fifth dispensary, Sanctuary on O'Farrell Street in the Tenderloin, received a letter over Thanksgiving and is expected to shutter soon.

Meanwhile, multiple unlicensed delivery services -- which operate without city dispensary permits, business permits, or state tax certificates -- have continued to operate without intervention from local, state, or federal law enforcement, according to cannabis advocates.

Market Street Cooperative had "just been informed" of the letter to its landlord, according to a statement issued via the Web and Facebook.

"Our hope is that our closure is temporary," the statement reads. "We hope that our current federal administration will reconsider its attack on California's medical cannabis patients and caregivers and stick to its promise to allow law abiding cooperatives, such as Market Street Cooperative, to again provide affordable medical cannabis."

President Barack Obama had promised on the campaign trail not to interfere with state-law-abiding medical marijuana cultivators and providers, and a Justice Department memo issued in late 2009 seemed to echo that sentiment. Since then, however, several cannabis providers have been sentenced to terms in federal prison, and state-law-abiding farms and storefront collectives have been raided by federal agents in multiple states.

The closed dispensaries -- Medithrive on Mission Street, Mr. Nice Guy on Valencia Street, and Divinity Tree on Geary Boulevard-- were closed because they were within 1,000 feet of parks or schools, according to Haag. State law allows a dispensary to operate within 600 feet of a school.

Several parks, including Duboce, are within close proximity to Market Steet Cooperative. A telephone message left at the dispensary was not immediately returned. A spokesman for Haag, Jack Gillund, did not return an e-mail seeking comment.

Justice Department officials have said that the office's "limited resources" are being used to close "illegal pot shops" close to where "children congregate or play." Advocates like Stephanie Tucker, spokeswoman for the city's Medical Cannabis Task Force, fear that such a broad definition could be used to close all of San Francisco's medical cannabis dispensaries.

The city began permitting dispensaries in 2005. There were 27 permitted dispensaries in San Francisco before the four United States attorneys for California announced a coordinated crackdown on the state's "illegal marijuana industry" on Oct. 7.

Nearly all dispensaries in San Diego and Sacramento are believed to have closed under federal pressure, according to Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana patients' advocacy group. One in Marin has also closed, and another in Oakland has relocated. No dispensaries in San Jose or Los Angeles, where hundreds of storefront dispensaries operate, have closed.

A state court decision has led San Francisco and other municipalities to cease permitting new dispensaries. The state Supreme Court will choose whether to hear an appeal on the decision, Pack v. the city of Long Beach, in February.

A year ago, representatives from The Green Cross, which was at that time the city's lone delivery-only cannabis dispensary, provided to city officials a list of marijuana delivery services which did not have city permits, which seemingly violated local and state law. We Googled many of these providers to find out whether they are still in business as of today, and it appears they are.

"These unlicensed and unregulated providers present a problem for the city of San Francisco and those of us that support [city medical marijuana law] and other measures to control and regulate community-based access," said Caren Woodson, a spokeswoman for the Green Cross. "To the extent these operations refuse to subject themselves to the scrutiny and regulation provided by our local law, they undermine our local law and create un-level field of play for those collectives that have sought to play by the rules."

Federal officials could neither "confirm nor deny" any action on closing these state-law-violating marijuana providers.

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18 comments
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Only2jds
Only2jds

It definetely should be a local thing, but like always the feds stick thier noses where it dosent belong. Jurisdiction is a solid argument. Our states are not federal enclaves, such as gaum puerto rico, and d.c. Also obame lied and told the medical marijuana growers that the feds wouldnt bo hassled by them. So, it makes sense, the feds will always be up our butts, telling us what is good for us and whats not. I choose to keep them out of our lives.

Jonathan Kincaid Dearborn
Jonathan Kincaid Dearborn

I am so damn tired of the Cannabis Community trying to get out of trouble by blaming other members of the Cannabis Community. Why is a delivery by a legal cardholder to a legal card holder any different? The answer is rather simple. MONEY. I have been involved in legalization since prop 215, I voted for it leave us all alone, drink your Booze, smoke your Legal Weeds like Cigars that stink and kill you and leave each other alone. There is room enough for all off us in the Cannabis world. If you are not willing to take a risk get a grip and get out of the oven. The Money Grubbers know whom they are......We all do.

Ramsey Peter
Ramsey Peter

It's a pity they chose this dispensary, which catered to low income, the elderly and LGBT patients. Where will poor people go for their medicine now?

Andre Lambert
Andre Lambert

my problem lies in that alot of people like myself who live with h,i,v,, and take enough medication to kill a small pony, simply need their medical marijuana, to alleviate thier symptoms, which for alot of us have gone on for many years now. melinda haag will recieve kudos from her bosses and move up her governmental ladder of success, and get awards, and be a team player, meanwhile on the backs the suffering patients, of a killer disease, are supposed to wait for some hand out from the medical establishment, that will help us with side effects???. i dont think so, how realistic is that! it is true insanity that we must now get our medicine from a foreign cartel dealer or street seller. wheres the compassion in that melinda haag?, could you please let your bosses know that our pain is on your head!  remember, melinda haag, the families of these patients, in pain, don't forget your heavy handed approach easily! do you want your legacy to be that of thatcher and reagan, who did nothing for our dying aids patients, or do you want to be a force for compassionate justice?

Clarke Johnston
Clarke Johnston

Melinda Haag - We should all chip in a get her a brown shirt. It's SO her style.

Sebra Leaves
Sebra Leaves

Think about who "suffers" most from cheap, legal drugs. It is Big Pharma who is most at risk. Big Pharma and Big Banks. They get the laundering money. Our government can't do enough to support these "legal players" who drive health care cost through the roof.Next time we have the choice of voting in some new representatives in Washington who support the rest of us, we should do so.

Jyprtt
Jyprtt

The town I live in has a pharmacy across the street from an elementary school, probably less than 100 feetThe . I don't understand why a legal medical dispensary which sells a helpful and non toxic plant is required to be further away from a school or playground than a DRUG STORE that sells deadly chemical substances.The town I live in has a pharmacy across the street from an elementary school, probably less than 100 feetThe . I don't understand why a legal medical dispensary which sells a helpful and non toxic plant is required to be further away from a school or playground than a DRUG STORE that sells deadly chemical substances. Then I hear police saying ;after raiding a marijuana grow house, how dangerous it is , because people with guns could break in there to steal the pot & money. How is a grow house getting robbed any more dangerous than any other business getting robbed? I'm 50 years old and I still can't understand how some people think. Then I hear police saying ;after raiding a marijuana grow house, how dangerous it is , because people with guns could break in there to steal the pot & money. How is a grow house getting robbed any more dangerous than any other business getting robbed? I'm 50 years old and I still can't understand how some people think.

PoppyCK
PoppyCK

shops in LA are being closed as well. it seems random. i don't understand why a shop can't be open near a child.  i've been going to shops for over 5 years and have never seen any violence or problems in or around or related to the dispensary. obviously local politicians want to seem like they're doing something. sadly, raiding an open store is much easier than combatting real problems like crime or homelessness.

Xnewfaces
Xnewfaces

What about Los Angeles? Why aren't there any closures?Frisco only has a few dispensaries and L.A. has hundreds!Makes no sense why L.A. is untouchable?

Sullivanjason99
Sullivanjason99

They (the feds) seem to be doing a good job keeping up the pressure on us tax paying (and otherwise) law abiding Americans. We need to increase the pressure on them. Pay close attention to your politicians, and write to them on a regular basis. If they don't comply with us (remember We The People?). Vote them out! Vote Ron Paul!!!

Coasterdam
Coasterdam

That was great that 'Green Cross' snitched off the other delivery services.. Karma will be a bitch for them.. Delivery is the future, especially here in Monterey County.. Visit Coasterdam on FB to inquire on lowest priced meds, without sacrificing quality..

moxaman
moxaman

Obama is the lying neocon warmongering fascist scoundrel I always thought he was.  He is a pawn of the New World Order, a globalist who hates America and all she stands for.  The Bill of Rights mean nothing to him, as does the Constitution.  He lies thru his teeth, just like the fascist idiot Bush did before him.  Why do we continue to elect these hate filled sociopaths to lead the nation?  

Only2jds
Only2jds

You are very insightful. And very correct! Its funny that they pick and choose the laws on the books if it suits them. They are a very poor example to to tell us what we can and cant do.How many people go out and rob banks and are on pot? how many people go out driving and causing accidents. 0 i believe. To put pot as a schedule 1 drug proves thier ignorance on the subject

hyaregf
hyaregf

Even if you were to attribute the discrepancy between policy and practice to rogue elements within the, "justice", department, the fact is here is an example of the US government saying one thing and doing another on its own citizens. Makes you wonder who is in control… isn’t this, technically, lying?

joeyrockx
joeyrockx

Welcome to the cold new world comrades. Freedom my A$$

MPetrelis
MPetrelis

just saw this piece at the SF weekly and wanna make you aware of something that should be in your story. while mr nice guy was forced to close because it was supposedly too close to the friends school a block away, the smaller cesar's cafe, which runs a smallish dispensary in the back and is closer to the school is open. go figure. the other thing is, both cesar's and mr nice guy were here way before the school opened its door. i know all this because i live near all of the venues.

so, how about writing somethign about the prop we SF voters passed a few years ago calling on the city to turn over city property to grow pot for patients? getting patients involved in growing our own on city property, at a controlled indoor site, would do a nice end run around the feds.

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