Oakland Stands Up To The Feds –Fired Up Over the Pot-ential Loss of Revenue
Harborside collective keeps fighting the good fight. Two weeks ago many noticed as the largest and best medical cannabis collective in northern California had won an important battle in state court. Staring down threats by the feds over Harborside’s medical weed sales, their worried landlord made the futile attempted to evict them, only to be shut down by a judge. The primary reason for the judges rejection of the landlord’s request was that she had ‘authorized’ Harborside collective to participate specifically in the distribution of medical marijuana as spelled out in Harborside lease.
Harborside marijuana collective, frustrated and looking to put this incident behind them, iscurrently stuck in a holding pattern. Recently a federal judge began hearing three related motions on the matter, as the pressure mounts from the landlord to move out, and the city of Oakland – to stay; two attorneys representing the landlord are requesting the eviction of Harborside, while one lawyer from the City of Oakland is staunchly opposing those motions, asking they be stayed until the city of Oakland’s effort to stop the federal government’s forfeiture proceeding plays out.
“We invited (U.S. Attorney) Melinda Haag to come to Harborside to tour to take a look at the way we do things,” Harborside Executive Director Steve DeAngelo said Thursday outside court [according to NBC]. “Because I think the federal government should be studying the way Harborside cultivates marijuana and then distributes it, rather than trying to close us down. We’ve developed a great model for responsible and legitimate distribution of cannabis.”
According to the LA Times, the city’s lawsuit “contends that federal prosecutors missed a five-year statute of limitations to seize Harborside’s properties and misled Oakland officials with a ‘pattern of false promises’ that they would not go after collectives that were complying with state and local laws.” The feds in turn say they’ve always reserved the right to go after any dispensary, and dismissed attorneys’ arguments about the needs of patients who will be driven to the illicit market.
Those issues will in all likelihood be decided based on the technical legal merits, and we’ve known all along we faced tough prospects in the courts, especially since the Raich ruling. Still, the city’s arguments, whether legally persuasive or not, are accurate. Obama administration officials did mislead the city — the country — about their intentions with regard to state medical marijuana laws. Whether they did so deliberately or through mere inconsistency is irrelevant. When Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asked the attorney general to make the administration’s intentions toward marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado known, the unspoken corollary is how inappropriately they’ve handled communications about medical marijuana. That’s bad enough when a business or city gets harmed. But some of the victims are in prison or dead.
Haag must see that she is on the losing side of history by now. The question is how much carnage she and her cohorts will inflict by holding out. It would be better to have some reason from the feds sooner rather than later — some reason and some decency.