Oakland’s Harborside Dispensary is this nation’s largest licensed medical marijuana dispensary with over 108,000 patients having registered for its goods since its inception in 2006. It’s also one of the most hotly contested dispensaries, with a pending federal lawsuit that could shut its doors for good.
Harborside’s troubles all began in 2012 when then US Attorney Melinda Haag sued the dispensary for operating illegally under federal law and attempted to confiscate its property. Oakland, being the gangsters that they are, responded in kind, suing the Federal Government on the dispensaries behalf.
Utilizing the argument that the government had missed its statute of limitations window for civil forfeiture, Oakland made the move to protect Harborside in large part to protect major a tax revenue (Harborside reportedly brings in $1 million in tax revenue to the city each year).
Harborside has remained loyal to its customers and have kept their doors open during the rocky highs and lows of these court proceedings, which have now stretched into their fourth year. However last week the highest court in the county brought the hammer down on the famed dispensary (as well as sticking it to the city) by not allowing the city of Oakland to take part in Harborside’s defense.
Let me reiterate.
While Federal judges essentially agreed that Oakland has interests of its own at stake, they still told the city of Oakland (in no uncertain terms) to f**k off, ruling “ that neither the city nor any other outsider has a right to intervene when the government seeks confiscation of private property for alleged legal violations”.
All is not lost as Harborside will continue to remain open until a final verdict is passed. Unsurprisingly, it’s fiercely wielding the argument that the Supreme Court decision violates a multitude of federal laws, including the Obama administration’s stated policy of deferring to laws in nearly half the states, including California, that have legalized marijuana for medical use.
It additionally has the ruling from U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco for added weight. Last October Breyer ruled, in a case from Marin County, that the budget language prohibits the government from shutting down dispensaries that comply with state laws. If Breyer’s decision is upheld, Harborside will stay open and the city and residents of Oakland will continue to benefit.
My name is Petey Wheatstraw, also known as Charles Stevens. I’m an avid marijuana smoker, writer, devoted father and non-profit minion– not necessarily in that order. A Chicago native I’ve lived off and on in the Bay Area since 1996. Seven years ago I finally settled here to capture the changing face of our communities.