Oakland Comes to Harborside Health’s Defense, Sues Gov’t to Prevent Dispensary’s Eviction

The City of Oakland is supporting the medical marijuana industry on an unprecedented level, filing a lawsuit to block the government from forcing the eviction of a notable dispensary.

This marks the first time that a city has sued to prevent federal officials from seizing the building and assets of an MMJ operation, according to several experts. If successful, it could set a legal precedent that destroys one of the government’s primary weapons against state-compliant dispensaries and grow sites.

In July, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag took actions to shut down Oakland-based Harborside Health Center, sending a letter to the dispensary’s landlord threatening to seize the property. Harborside, which also has a location in San Jose, is one of the largest, most prominent dispensaries in the nation and was featured on the Discovery Channel reality show “Weed Wars.”

Haag and other U.S. attorneys have used a similar strategy to force hundreds of dispensaries to close across the country, offering varying – and often conflicting – reasons for targeting certain operations. Landlords have little incentive to put up a fight, so in most cases they evict the dispensaries if the owners don’t close on their own.

The justification for going after Harborside is that the dispensary is simply too big (not that it is violating any other state MMJ laws).

The City of Oakland, however, argues that Haag’s office is overzealous in its attempt to crack down on the medical marijuana industry and that its actions are illegal.

“The federal government has acted beyond its authority by initiating the forfeiture action outside of the statute of limitations,” Cedric Chao, a partner with the law firm representing Oakland in the suit, said in a press release. “Moreover, the government has indicated for many years by its words and actions that so long as dispensaries and medical patients acted consistently with state law, the dispensaries would be allowed to operate. Oakland has reasonably relied on these assurances, and the government should be prohibited from disrupting Oakland’s medical cannabis program.”

Harborside is also facing pressure to close its San Jose location, with the landlord of that building asking for help from the federal government to evict the dispensary after receiving a civil forfeiture notice.

4 comments on “Oakland Comes to Harborside Health’s Defense, Sues Gov’t to Prevent Dispensary’s Eviction
  1. Greg on

    This is a monumental point in the fight for legalization. Reading through the document you see the duplicitous nature of the federal government: on one hand acknowledging medical cannabis and on the other hand fighting against those same proclamations.

  2. William A Wigle on

    Will someone please tell my why no one is taking the federal government to court over their violation of the tenth amendment.. It has been over 40 years ago that I read it. but as far as I know 3/2 of the voting population has not voted to change the constitution, so it should still be in activation.
    the way I remember, the way it goes, is that the federal government has no business in state business, or state laws, that is, as long as it does not leave the state boundaries. If it does, then it becomes Interstate business, then the government is allowed to jump in with all four feet.(It’s a bitch)
    Any one that causes the state,to loose these rights, should have the whole state down on their back, with all the weight that it can carry. I don’t mean just the state laws, I mean all the people too. What the person is doing is hurting every person in the state. He should be incarcerated, and never let loose to do it again. Breaking the law is not the worst thing he is doing. It is destroying other people’s rights, that he/she has no business doing. That is about the meanest thing, that anyone can do.

  3. William A Wigle on

    If MMJ or legalization movement, wants someone to gather voter signitures, in south Texas to put it on the ballot. Please contact me at ([email protected]). I’ll be glad to help. I am a registered Voter and I know many other people that would like to see it legalized. Some smoke it, and some don’t. but this worthless war on Marijuana is about as stupid as any thing that the government has ever come up with. That is unless you look at all the big businesses that are making big bucks off the Prohibition, and don’t want to cut the head off of their golden goose.

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