In major victory, Harborside civil forfeiture case dropped

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A California medical marijuana dispensary has won a landmark legal case that at one point had threatened the MJ industry’s very future.

Harborside Health Center in Oakland, once in danger of being shuttered by the U.S. Attorney’s office, announced today federal prosecutors have dropped their case brought against the dispensary four years ago.

The dismissal could set a legal precedent and protect dispensaries nationwide that abide by local and state regulations. That, in turn, should comfort dispensary owners who feared being shuttered by federal agents or kicked out by landlords under pressure from the U.S. Department of Justice.

“We are gratified that the government has finally seen fit to lay down its arms against Harborside in this case,” the dispensary’s attorney, Henry Wykowski, said in a statement. “We hope we are on the cusp of a policy change and that the Department of Justice will no longer target state-legal dispensaries for forfeiture.”

Over the years, federal prosecutors used the threat of asset seizures, or so-called civil forfeitures, against an estimated 600 California dispensaries. Harborside was one of the few choosing to fight back in court. As a result, the Department of Justice ultimately agreed to dismiss the case, as long as Harborside pledged not to file any appeals or further claims against the government, the Harborside release stated.