For California medical marijuana businesses, a presidential visit couldn’t come at a better time.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak in Oakland on Monday as his reelection campaign gains steam, giving the MMJ industry a perfect opportunity to protest his administration’s moves against Harborside Health Center, Oaksterdam University and scores of other medical cannabis businesses that have been threatened in recent months.
A group of local and national leaders from the medical marijuana industry will hold a news conference at 1:45 p.m. on Monday and also rally at the steps of City Hall to draw attention to their plight. The press conference will be held at Oaksterdam University (1600 Broadway), which was raided earlier this year. Speakers include Harborside Executive Director Steve DeAngelo, retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James P. Gray, Aaron Smith of the National Cannabis Industry Association and an Alameda County official, among others.
MMJ organizers in Colorado , Oregon and Washington will hold similar events.
“President Obama should not make a fundraising visit in Oakland – the heart of the medical cannabis industry that his administration is seeking to destroy – without first ordering (Attorney General) Eric Holder and others in his administration to immediately cease actions that are harming patients, undermining state law, and contrary to the president’s stated policy,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Obama’s visit comes just weeks after the government – under the direction of US Attorney Melinda Haag – moved to shut down Harborside Health Center, one of the nation’s largest and most successful dispensaries. Federal officials have also put pressure on banks and landlords that do business with MMJ companies, and the IRS has made it difficult on cannabis businesses from a tax perspective.