Feds Say Oakland Can’t Block Seizure of Harborside Medical Pot Dispensary

Activist Post

The Feds are at it again. Their relentless attempt to shut down the largest medical marijuana shop in the world, Harborside Health Center, continues.

After losing a recent court judgement that said they couldn’t evict Harborside under federal forfeiture, the Feds are now making the argument that the state and city cannot stand in their way of seizing the dispensary.

Back in July, the federal government filed forfeiture proceedings against the property that Harborside rents. Although Harborside has not violated any state laws, action by the Feds essentially forced the landlords Anna Chretien and Concourse Business Center to file eviction charges with the Feds.

On Friday November 30th of this year a superior court ruled that Harborside cannot be evicted from their location simply because their product violates federal law. The granted stay of forfeiture was seen as a huge victory for Harborside and for state sovereignty in a never-ending battle by the Feds.

“We are heartened by the robust support provided to Harborside by our elected officials and the California courts,” said Harborside’s co-founder Steve DeAngelo. “The decision makes it clear that organizations that comply with state law deserve the protection of that law.”

“For years, in medical cannabis cases, California state courts have followed a principle that cities should not be able to ask a state court to ‘indirectly’ enforce federal controlled substance laws in a way that disadvantages cannabis patients and caregivers,” said Harborside’s lawyer, Henry Wykowski. “However, this is the first opinion that extends that principle to private actors, such as landlords.”

However, that small victory for Harborside was short lived. The Feds have now challenged the ruling saying that they have the power over states and cities because they have no ownership in the property being seized, and federal law supersedes state law.

In a brief, Justice Department attorney Kathryn Wyer writes:

Plaintiff, the City of Oakland, has initiated this separate action in an attempt to halt forfeiture proceedings that the United States has initiated against an Oakland property housing a marijuana dispensary. Plaintiff’s lawsuit was filed after the time to assert a claim in the forfeiture action itself had passed. And in any event, Plaintiff lacks any ownership interest in the property. Plaintiff therefore lacks standing to participate in the forfeiture action

The brief further notes that the Controlled Substance Act applies to all states no matter if they have changed their own laws or not:

Plaintiff argues that the United States is stopped from seeking forfeiture of the Oakland property because it had adopted a ‘policy of nonenforcement’ of the CSA against all those in compliance with state law. Even assuming that the marijuana dispensary operating at the Oakland property – which is alleged to be the largest on the planet, with annual gross sales revenue of $20 million – were in compliance with California law, this claim cannot succeed.

…the United States has never misrepresented the fact that marijuana distribution, possession, and cultivation remain illegal under federal law…

Wyer even takes a swipe at the state and city for only sticking up for Harborside because “it has received a windfall of millions of dollars in tax and sales revenues through the operation of illegal marijuana dispensaries within its borders.”

Indeed, Harborside has been a major benefit to the state of California and Oakland, as it’s estimated $20 million in annual sales operating as a non-profit have generated over $3 million is local and state taxes. Yet, apparently Wyer thinks that is a bad thing.

Clearly the Feds have little respect for state rights, property rights, medical rights, and local sovereignty — all of which are being tried in this case. Meanwhile, one of the most respected, lawful, and successful medical marijuana treatment centers is facing closure.

Learn more about the Harborside Health Center by watching their video:

A recent Gallup poll showed that 64% of Americans want the federal government out of state marijuana laws:

Even 43% of people who think marijuana should not be legalized believe that the Feds should leave the states alone.

If you’re interested in sending your thoughts to DOJ attorney Kathryn Wyer regarding this case, please contact her below:

kathryn.wyer@usdoj.gov
Tel. (202) 616-8475/Fax (202) 616-8470

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