By Anne Holland
On Tuesday, DEA agents posted notices of property forfeiture on the doors of Harborside Health Center’s Oakland and San Jose medical cannabis dispensaries. Both locations are rented, so Harborside’s landlords are under threat of losing their properties under laws that allow the government to seize personal property and assets believed to be connected to criminal activity.
California law allows property owners 30 days to dispute forfeiture. The key to winning is to convince the judge that either you had no idea a criminal activity was taking place on your property, or that the activity itself is not criminal.
Harborside’s management and staff have already begun aggressively fighting on behalf of their rights under California state laws. The Center will conduct a formal press conference at 9am Thursday July 12th at Oakland City Hall. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, State Board of Equalization & City Officials, union officials, Arturo Sanchez, LEAP officers, Rebecca Kaplan and other statewide officials are scheduled to appear. This tactic effectively turns what no doubt the DEA had hoped would be an action against a single dispensary and its landlords into a battle between two governments — the City of Oakland versus the Feds.
Harborside is also rallying its patient customers, asking them to join a special email list to receive news and action alerts.
With an estimated $22 million in gross annual revenues, Harborside is America’s largest dispensary. Although the DEA has stated in the past that they only target cannabis dispensaries which do not obey local laws, the Center’s management have an industry reputation for being locally law abiding.
Note: Steve DeAngelo, Harborside’s executive director and founder, has been a columnist for MMJ Business Daily, and is scheduled to give a keynote address at our upcoming National Marijuana Business Conference in Denver this November, two days after the national elections.