January 8, 2013

CA Dispensary Harborside Prevails Again in Court, Eroding Feds’ MMJ Crackdown Strategy

Image of Harborside Health Center

Score another one for Harborside Health Center – and possibly the entire medical marijuana industry.

A federal judge in California has ruled that the landlords of Harborside’s buildings in San Jose and Oakland cannot force the dispensary to stop selling marijuana despite federal threats to seize the properties. Chief Federal Magistrate Maria-Elena James also rejected claims by the landlords that their properties will lose value if the dispensary is allowed to continue selling cannabis, saying the argument “rings hollow.” (You can read the entire ruling here)

The MMJ center has now racked up several key court victories in just the past few months. The latest ruling is one of the biggest of the bunch for Harborside: It lets the nation’s largest dispensary to stay open as it battles the federal government in a civil forfeiture case.

“The main threat here was that if the judge prevented Harborside from continuing to remain in business with the forfeiture action pending, (the dispensary) wouldn’t have the financial ability to pursue its case,” Henry Wykowski, the lead attorney for Harborside, told Medical Marijuana Business Daily. “By refusing to close us down, the judge has paved the way for us to develop our case and present it at trial, which is what we always wanted.”

The ruling could wind up being significant for more than just Harborside: It sets a legal precedent that will make it much more difficult for the federal government to go after medical marijuana centers simply by threatening their landlords with asset seizure.

This strategy has worked remarkably well for the feds over the past year, leading to the closure of hundreds of dispensaries in California and other states. Landlords who received warning letters simply booted dispensaries from their properties, allowing the government to crack down on the industry without spending much in the way of time or resources. No one has been able to stand up to the feds and challenge such moves until now.

The ruling adds to a number of positive developments – including the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington and new MMJ laws in Connecticut and Massachusetts – that have renewed optimism in the industry after some tough times.

For Harborside, though, the battle is not over. The dispensary is still facing the threat of civil forfeiture from the federal government, and a hearing will be held later this month in a case tied to that suit. With its recent court wins, however, the dispensary has momentum on its side. The forfeiture case also will take months, and possibly even a year, to play out – removing the immediate threat of closure.


2 Comments:

  1. Awesome stuff! And all the time it’s open the street drug dealers in that area have less customers and therefore less incentive to operate. This will INCREASE the safety of children living in that area! The federal government should be paying them to stay open, NOT trying to close them down!!

  2. Yes, the American Gestapo/D.E.A./Federal Gov’t should be paying these dispensaries to stay open or at least be giving us a tax break, since marijuana is now available as medicine and will eventually be available for recreational use. I consider marijuana to be one of the best medicines that I’ve ever used.

Post Your Comment:


Please note:
Comments are moderated by our editors who do their best to approve comments ASAP. As Marijuana Business Daily is focused on business, we approve comments that are specifically relevant to industry professionals. General opinions and questions about cannabis may not be posted.

Denver MJ Growers Major Contributor to Rise in Energy Use

Marijuana cultivation facilities have been specifically identified as a key contributor to Denver’s increasing electric [click to continue...]

Alaska Governor Names 5 to Marijuana Control Board

Five Alaskans were appointed to a board that will craft laws governing the state’s recreational [click to continue...]

New York Could Reveal MMJ License Winners Soon

NewYorkMedicalMarijuana

The New York Health Department may announce winners of the five medical cannabis licenses up [click to continue...]

50+ Medical Cannabis Business Applications Filed in MA

The Green Rush is back on in Massachusetts. The opening of the first medical cannabis [click to continue...]

Oregon Rec Rules Materializing, Early Sales Possible

Rules governing Oregon’s recreational marijuana market are taking shape, with state lawmakers sending two bills [click to continue...]

Rand Paul Brings in Six Figures at MJ Industry Fundraiser

Rand_Paul_official_portrait_with_flag_edit

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul made a splash in Denver on Tuesday, raising an estimated [click to continue...]

Hawaii Bill Establishing Dispensaries Likely to Become Law

Dispensaries could be open in Hawaii in just over a year, as a bill establishing [click to continue...]

Second MMJ Bill Introduced in Pennsylvania Legislature

In an attempt to get around obstructionists in the state House of Representatives who have [click to continue...]

Fifth New Jersey Dispensary Given Green Light

New Jersey medical cannabis, pot dispensary and marijuana industry news

And then there were five. Dispensaries permitted in New Jersey, that is. Compassionate Sciences, Inc. [click to continue...]

Louisiana Gov Signs Medical Marijuana Bill

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill making his state the latest in the [click to continue...]

New York Cannabis Firm Buys Oregon Utility Building for $3M

In another sign of the marijuana industry’s growing national reach, a New York-based real estate [click to continue...]

WA Moves Closer to Overhauling Marijuana Tax Structure

cannabis taxes

Washington State growers and processors would no longer pay a 25% tax on cannabis and [click to continue...]

Sole MMJ Dispensary Opens in Delaware

Delaware’s only licensed medical cannabis dispensary officially opened in the northern town of Wilmington on [click to continue...]

Canadian Cultivator Tilray to Lay Off 61 Employees

Canadian medical marijuana producer and distributor Tilray said it will lay off 61 employees as [click to continue...]

Marijuana Business Daily