Feds Move to Close Harborside Health Center, California's Biggest Marijuana Dispensary

Categories: Marijuana
Harborside pot.jpg
Shut down time
The federal Justice Department's crackdown on California's medical marijuana industry escalated Monday when the government moved to shut down the state's largest cannabis dispensary.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed paperwork July 6 to seize the Oakland and San Jose locations of Harborside Health Center -- which, with 110,000 patients, is the biggest pot club in  California and the world, her office said Tuesday.

The move against the state's biggest marijuana sellers follows the April 2 raid of Oaksterdam University, which put Richard Lee, the man who bankrolled 2010's marijuana legalization ballot measure, out of business. 

The move could also spell fiscal trouble for Oakland; Harborside is the city's second-largest retail taxpayer.

A press conference, wherein city and dispensary officials will speak out against the feds, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in front of Oakland City Hall.

The Obama Administration's crackdown on medical marijuana in California began last fall, when the state's four United States attorneys began sending letters to the landlords of selected California dispensaries. The letters warned of property forfeitures and stiff prison sentences if the dispensaries were not closed.

Letters from Haag have to date shut down six of San Francisco's permitted medical marijuana dispensaries. Haag also shut down dispensaries in Berkeley and in Marin County.

Haag has in rare instances followed up her letters with a civil asset forfeiture suit. A suit forced Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana to shut its doors. Haag filed such a suit against Harborside's locations in Oakland and San Jose on Monday, she said.

The moves to shut down the state's legal medical marijuana industry seem to contradict public statements made on the campaign trail and in office by President Barack Obama as well as Attorney General Eric Holder. As recently as this year, Holder said that only dispensaries that violate state law will be targeted for enforcement by the federal government.

The Oakland location had been in business since 2006 without generating any complaints, Americans for Safe Access said. The San Jose location opened in 2010.

Haag explained her move in a rare public statement issued on Tuesday. While she has in the past focused on closing dispensaries located too close to schools, she is now moving to shut down the largest dispensaries, including "superstores like Harborside," she said.

"The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need," Haag said in a statement.

Haag did not specify exactly which laws Harborside is said to have broken.

Stephen DeAngelo, Harborside's CEO, said on Tuesday that the dispensary "has nothing to hide" and will fight the forfeiture proceeding in court.

Harborside employs more than 100 people and pays some $3 million in state and local taxes, DeAngelo said. More than $1 million goes to Oakland alone.

"We will contest the DOJ action openly and in public, and through all legal means at our disposal," DeAngelo said in a statement. "We look forward to our day in court, and are confident that justice is on our side."

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14 comments
Scordiddo
Scordiddo

Alcohol is so much worse than marijuana. It's the world's number one addictive substance, and the leading killer among all drugs world wide. And it remains legal. 

Poonuggets
Poonuggets

I'm in Maine and just saw hash with the harborside name on the bag.... Needless to say, they had it coming.....

P*Love
P*Love

Per AG Haag, "The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse...".  Wouldn't this principle equating 'larger operations' with likelihood of abuse apply most forcefully to the "Too Big To Fail" banks? These banks openly commit fraud on a global scale.  Where is the Department of Justice when it comes to these actual, not assumed, crimes? AG Holder worked for the banks, defending their crimes at a top law firm, before Pres. Obama gave him the top law enforcement position, where he has clearly shielded them from their flagrant, massive criminality.    AG Holder and his acolytes work for the banks and thus conspire in the theft that has brought the global economy to its knees.  No doubt rich rewards will flow to these "Hear/See/Speak no bank evil" attorneys general in high paying jobs after their stint in the AG's office or directly into their campaign coffers should they seek public office. Who represents a greater threat to society, Harborside or TBTF banks and their dear friends in the so-called Department of Justice?

skunk
skunk

Unless we all unite, this is going to keep happening. Everyone seems to dislike the outcomes but ask yourselves what you are going to do come election time? I hope this will encourage those that do not vote to stand up and vote come election day. I know your vote seems like a small drop in the pond but with enough of us getting up taking action, we can spark a change. Medical Marijuana has been in trouble for a long time and the pressures are increasing, I urge everyone to start taking action and to fight back! Make calls, send letters, join NORML and the ASA. PROTEST, it is our RIGHT. 

Brant Ra
Brant Ra like.author.displayName 1 Like

If they were smart they would get the Sheriffs involved and kick the Feds out!!!

Harold
Harold

i am glad that the feds is shutting down this drug dealer masquerading as medical marijuana

JIM@CITYLIGHTSCLEANING.NET
JIM@CITYLIGHTSCLEANING.NET

wow just goes to show how narrow minded our our elected politicians are i mean why dont you work on the homeless problem and find job for people cut down crime in OAKLAND   but instead you put these matters in the lap of officials who kiss eachother ass for approval of what they know nothing about and would not last in the job market based on there limited knowledge on how things work in the real world...MAN THIS SUCKS .

Gopal Rao
Gopal Rao

My guess is that the administration isn't worried about losing votes over this.  Their opposition isn't likely to be stealing those votes away.  Instead, some ineffective third party candidate probably will.  

Klaus Vorman
Klaus Vorman

That's what you get for doing a TV show about weed. Time to legalize outright for every body. Alcohol prohibition, how well did that work?

Michael H.
Michael H.

The federal government will do whatever it takes to eliminate jobs and destroy the American people. They think we are frogs in a slowly boiling pot of water. We won't fight back until we are cooked. And the Obama administration has already lost my vote.

Slick Rick
Slick Rick

This isn't right! The Obama administration is going to lose the support of youth vote because of things like this. 

Patrick Shane
Patrick Shane

Estimates show that marijuana is America’s number one cash crop, making more money than corn and tobacco. However, marijuana remains untaxed.  Over 500 of the nation’s top economic professors from prestigious schools such as Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago and George Mason University have shared their opinion in supporting the removing the prohibition and imposing the taxation and regulation of marijuana as a way to slow the federal deficit.  Please join electedface.com and sign the petition at electedface.com supporting the taxation and regulation of marijuana.  When you sign up for electedface members will automatically be connected to their state legislatures, allowing users to lobby their point of view in numbers.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_tUy6fylQs

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