Feds Subpoenaed San Francisco for Medical Marijuana Records

Busting you -- with public records.
Fifth SF Dispensary Likely To Close

It wasn't Tommy gun-toting agents who finally put Prohibition-era bad boy Al Capone behind bars on Alcatraz: it was paper-pushers from the Internal Revenue Service who busted the syphilitic mobster on tax fraud.

In this second era of Prohibition, in which non-prescription drugs (other than caffeine, nicotine, salvia, kava, etc.) have been under federal ban since 1970, it has also not been kevlar-clad drug warriors responsible for shuttering three San Francisco medical marijuana dispensaries.

It's been the city's own records.

Files from the Department of Public Health, which permits the city's two dozen -- and dropping -- cannabis dispensaries, were subpoenaed by United States Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag and used to ensure the pot clubs were closed, city officials told the Medical Cannabis Task Force.

Three San Francisco dispensaries have closed since receiving warning letters from Haag's outpost of Attorney General Eric Holder's Justice Department. A fourth, Sanctuary, received a letter over the Thanksgiving holiday. The feds have now requested information on yet one more dispensary, which means a fifth dispensary will probably close, city officials said.

Letters from the Justice Department -- which warned of asset forfeiture as well as prison sentences for dispensary operators and their landlords who failed to shut down within 45 days -- have forced the clubs to close. Those clubs include Medithrive in the Mission District, Mr. Nice Guy on Valencia Street, and Divinity Tree on Geary Street in the Tenderloin. Federal authorities decided that the pot clubs were too close to a school or park, despite the fact they all complied with city law, according to San Francisco records.

Those records -- in addition to certificates of compliance with city public health law -- would have included applications with the Planning Department, which states how close to a park, school, or other "child-serving facility" a dispensary is permitted. State law allows a dispensary to operate within 600 feet of a school, while stricter city laws require a 1,000-foot boundary. Federal law, however, calls for penalty enhancements for the "distribution of illegal drugs" within 1,000 feet of a park or school.

And that's why Haag is targeting these specific dispensaries, according to Jack Gillund, a spokesman for Haag, who would only provide a two-month-old statement from Haag in response to inquiries from SF Weekly. No further comment was provided.

In her statement, Haag said that the Justice Department's "limited resources" would be used to close only "illegal marijuana stores that are in close proximity to schools, parks, playgrounds, and other places where children play and learn."

Of course, in a densely populated city such as San Francisco, this broad definition winds up covering places like daycare centers or bus stops, and results in every dispensary closing down, according to Stephanie Tucker, a spokeswoman for the city's Medical Cannabis Task Force.

Lawyers with the City Attorney's Office who are handling medical cannabis-related inquiries from the Justice Department are on vacation and cannot be reached until after Christmas, according to Assistant City Attorney Virginia Dario Elizondo, who processes public records requests.

A spokesman for the City Attorney said that the office can't confirm or deny receipt of subpoenas -- legally binding demands for testimony or evidence -- from the Justice Department.

Nonetheless, a request for information on a fifth dispensary "means there's a fifth [warning] letter out there," said Tucker. Gillund declined to identify the dispensary in question.

And now local governments are wondering: If the feds are using paperwork and fees to shut down these pot dispensaries, and, in some cases, send their operators to prison, what's the point of going legal?

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly

My Voice Nation Help

somebody should file harassment charges against Melinda the hag and the other 3 attorneys who are in on this . lets take their jobs away from them .these sleazy tactics prove these people are hateful misguided hysterical  bedwetters, you know Gladys Kravitz wannabees. power to the people!

Kava Powder
Kava Powder

Waaaa. Seriously? They got this bunch of stuff there. Wew

Mikoe Wozz
Mikoe Wozz

Another restaurant cliaimed to use fresh mozz arella cheese,where it'sdishes were actually made with economy cheddar.the "freshpasta"advertieshed on another meau tumed out to be frozen.--Agedate. ℃⊙M--anice and free place for younger women and older men,or older women and youngermen,to interact with each other.

CO_Buddyboy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Why isn't anybody upset about this? The feds are clearly overstepping their bounds and need to be taken to court. We can't keep cooperating with the bad guys like Haag. Write your state and national government officials and tell them that it is time to bring back sanity. The author somewhat laughingly compares the current state of cannabis prohibition to alcohol prohibition, but it's not funny. It is time to take action. Quit sitting around waiting for someone else to do something about it, SPEAK UP! 

sisterlauren like.author.displayName 1 Like

I'm upset about it. 

I came out over eight years ago to legalize my religion. I'm actually lucky to still be alive. What we need to do is challenge the feds as to why they are selectively picking on us over our sacrament.

I know it is based on religious prejudice and I walked that walk. If any lawyers want to help me, I have an excellent case. 

I'm also a good leader, so when I looked into why pot was illegal in 2003, I was horrified, and I spent four months coming up with a political strategy to beat it. It is a little political action project I call 'the return of Jesus'. I use that catchy title because my project is based on developing a quality control program for governments. You can see the results manifesting in OWS.

I came up with my plan reading the law on cannabis prohibition. The argument in court preventing me from my freedom of religion is based on race. That is not constitutional, it had to be challenged. I thought challenging it would be a simple matter of coming out of the closet as a religious leader. Boy was I wrong, the people defending marijuana prohibition had me brutally sexually assaulted. 

Yeah it was a hit job. The police encouraged my rape. If I didn't have surgery to correct my injuries, I would have died. I think that is a case.

Reverend UnruhTHC MinistryPleasant Hill, California


Now that dude knows he is jsut totally rocking. Wow.www.Total-Privacy dot US

seabourne like.author.displayName 1 Like

The city should be held responsible - they issued licenses to open the business in the location.

joeyrockx like.author.displayName 1 Like

Welcome to the cold new world comrades. George Washington is turning over in his grave.Ron Paul

MrEricSir like.author.displayName 1 Like

No thanks -- a poorly educated racist in the white house is the LAST thing this country needs.

Cbennett19d like.author.displayName 1 Like

with that comment its clear you are the poorly educated one when it comes to policies and freedom, it is also clear that you fall for the mainstream media bs. Ron paul warned about the economy and the bubbles 30 years ago, he also warned about these needless wars , Drug war included. I guess you can continue to follow the lame talking points of the corporate big gov. machine but I would rather you go educate yourself on the principles of liberty and freedom. Peace


You should look into Rocky Anderson and the new Justice Party. They need people to sign up for the party before Jan. 2 to qualify for the ballot in California. The form can be picked up at the DMV and has to be mailed in and received before the 2nd.

I think it would be worth it. BTW, the Tea Party was my idea. Politics is what I do.

MrEricSir like.author.displayName 1 Like

Right, because the ONLY two options are corporate control or a whackjob who doesn't understand macroecnomics and thinks white people are better than everyone else.  And that's the media's fault!!!!11

You're clearly a very rational, well-informed person.

Locdasmoke like.author.displayName 1 Like

All I got to say is F*** Melinda Haag!

Mr Natural
Mr Natural

I still have plenty of pot to smoke and mushrooms and peyote to trip on so whats all the fuss about?

sfc415 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Because other people don't, maybe?


 they are idiots then. they got what they asked for by being stupid in life.

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.