An invitation from Steve DeAngelo:

“The federal attacks on the medical cannabis community keep coming. Recently, the Department of Justice announced their intention to confiscate two buildings operated by Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA and in San Jose, CA. This latest attack comes on the heels of other raids, audits, and other intimidation around the state.

“Can you please join us on the afternoon of Monday, July 23, to tell President Obama to stop attacking California’s medical cannabis patients, cultivators, and providers when he visits the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland?”

Unlike the 400 or so dispensaries that have folded since California’s U.S. Attorneys launched their crackdown in October, 2011 (on orders from Eric Holder’s office), Harborside is not within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or playground. And unlike some of the dispensaries closed by federal raiders, Harborside’s books are said to be audit-worthy.  (Harborside is already in litigation with the IRS over its tax liability for 2007 and 2008. The IRS refuses to allow such standard business deductions as rent and payroll.)  So Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, came up with a new rationale for eliminating a dispensary: commercial  success is a marker for criminality. 

This is the statement Haag issued explaining the take-down:

“On Monday, July 9, this office filed civil forfeiture actions against 1840 Embarcadero, Oakland, California, and 2106 Ringwood Avenue, San Jose, where Harborside, a marijuana dispensary claiming over 108,000 customers, operates.

“This office has used its limited resources to address those marijuana dispensaries that operate close to schools, parks and playgrounds. As I have said in the past, this is a non-exclusive list of factors relevant to whether we should commence civil forfeiture actions against marijuana properties, and circumstances may require us to address other situations.

“I now find the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside. 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.

“The filing of the civil forfeiture complaints against the two Harborside properties is part of our measured effort to address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the Northern District of California.”

Translation: we can’t find evidence that Harborside is not abiding by state law but my boss told me to take down the medical cannabis industry, piece by piece.

Haag should apply her simplistic logic to the financial institutions on Montgomery Street. “The bigger they are, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse” of federal banking laws. So why not take down the billionaires instead of the would-be millionaries? A billion is a thousand times bigger than a million.

Haag has previously said, “People are using the cover of medical marijuana to make extraordinary amounts of money.”   Since when did it become a crime for an entrepreneur to succeed in America?  Does the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District not believe in capitalism? Harborside is a perfect example of a small business creating jobs, paying taxes, and providing services and products that consumers appreciate. “Drug trafficking” and “selling medicine” are synonymous, but they spin in opposite directions.

As for Haag’s slurry reference to  “individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need…” She ought to observe the line of people waiting to buy herb or extracts at Harborside, any time of day, any day of the week.  She’d see working- and middle-class people (the lumpen can’t afford good Cannabis and the rich have their own excellent sources), young and old, all races. Every0ne on that line has a diagnosis from a physician entitling them to medicate with Cannabis as per California Health & Safety Code 11362.5. As Tod Mikuriya, MD, used to say about prosecutors like Haag who refuse to accept the law created by Prop 215: “Where did she go to medical school?”

A good piece about Harborside’s legal situation by a reliable reporter, Bob Egelko, ran in the San Francisco Chronicle July 13.

There’s laws from the Lord, and laws from the Board
and so-called “laws of the land.”
But under them all
is the law of supply and demand.