Medical Marijuana Raids

Why Is the DOJ Still Trying to Close a City-Supported Oakland Pot Dispensary?

Even a federal judge is asking why they keep fighting.


It's because some stoned guy made fun of her name, isn't it?
Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney

The Department of Justice is still trying to shut down a medical marijuana facility in Oakland, California, that is legally operating under state law and has the blessing of the city. Actually, "blessing" is a bit of an understatement. The city of Oakland is suing to block the actions of U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who has continued to work against both the will of the community and even Department of Justice guidelines for dealing with states that have adopted laws legalizing marijuana consumption. She has been trying for years to shut down Harborside Health Center and is not giving up. Other than the claim that the dispensary is too big for her tastes, it's hard to figure out why. From the Huffington Post:

Haag first targeted Harborside Health Center, a $25-million-a-year business widely considered to be the nation's largest marijuana dispensary, in July 2012 on grounds that the facility had grown too big. Later that year, attorneys representing the city of Oakland sued to block Haag's actions, arguing that Harborside is an asset to the community and that closing it may create a public health crisis. The case is now being argued before the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"There's no question that Harborside is well-regulated, compliant and an industry leader," Todd said, adding that attorneys speaking Haag's behalf couldn't answer repeated questions from judges as to "why they're fighting a city that clearly wants this business to operate here."

Haag's office did not immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment.

Since Haag first tried to shut down Harborside, the federal government has made multiple gestures in favor of giving states the freedom to adopt marijuana laws. A memo issued in 2013 instructed federal prosecutors not to interfere in state-legal operations that adhered to eight guidelines, including keeping pot out of the hands of minors and criminal organizations.

The story notes that Haag is also still going after another medical marijuana group in Berkeley as well. In Reason's "Marijuana on Main Street" issue last summer, Peter Hecht analyzed how the Department of Justice had been trying to crack down on medical marijuana in California, despite the will of the voters. The Harborside case was among the examples in his piece. Read more about the Haag's baffling determination here.

And as Jacob Sullum recently noted, we're still seeing some terrible, scary cases by the Department of Justice in other states as well. Read here about the Kettle Falls Five in Washington state, where the feds are trying to convict five people for growing marijuana and forbidding the defense from informing jurors that what they've done is perfectly legal under state law.

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  1. Fucking Haag!

    1. I wouldn’t. I dasn’t. I mustn’t.

    2. The alt text sounds like a Saab story to me.

  2. With regards to the Kettle Falls Five, how is it legal for the jury to be forbidden knowledge of the legality under state law? Is that at the judge’s discretion, or is there some, ahem, principle, involved here? (Besides FYTW.)

    1. I haven’t followed the case as closely as Jacob, but I would imagine it’s because they aren’t being charged with violating state law but with federal law.

      1. I get that, but what allows them to censor any and all information relating to state law?

        1. Because judges only want juries to rule of factual issues submitted to them by the judges.

          If they were honest, they’d simply tell the jury to render a special verdict – answer the following factual questions and let the judge draw the legal conclusions.

          But the thing of it is, juries still have the right to render general verdicts – guilty or not guilty – taking in the entire case. So judges want juries to give special verdicts under the *guise* general verdicts.

          With most juries this seems to work – “oh, you’re just deciding whether the defendant had x or more pounds of pot, never mind any other consideration, I’ll decide those things for you.”

  3. Haag first targeted Harborside Health Center, a $25-million-a-year business widely considered to be the nation’s largest marijuana dispensary, in July 2012 on grounds that the facility had grown too big.

    Emphasis added. Careful what you ask for.

    1. They have a monopoly on pot!

      1. And the DOJ has a monopoly on justice!

    2. You mean that through efficiency and scale they are providing goods to their customers at lower prices than their competitors?

      Not fair not fair not fair not fair not fair…

  4. The problem with US DOJ guidelines is that they’re just that: GUIDELINES. There is no statutory or regulatory requirement that US Attorneys follow DOJ guidelines as they’re nominally independent of the Department of Justice. AFAIK, there is no effective penalty for refusing to follow DOJ guidelines and Presidents generally don’t want to remove US Attorneys who don’t follow DOJ guidelines as that is seen as “political interference”.

  5. They’re still trying to shut it down because if they didn’t, that might give people the impression that they were wrong about something–and there’s no way any government agency can ever have been wrong about anything. …certainly not in public.

    Incidentally, my understanding is that this dispensary is somehow tied to union membership. We libertarians want to be careful anytime we find ourselves rooting for the City of Oakland. Take everything you hate about progressives and multiply it times ten–and now you’re starting to approach the character of the City of Oakland.

    That’s why I remember the local municipal union somehow being involved in this fight. At best, standing up for legalization here is giving us some of the nastiest, anti-libertarian bedfellows you can imagine. The City of Oakland would deport libertarians to Siberia if they could.

    1. If aligning with local unions increases freedom then I will gladly forfeit any visits to Oakland. They can have their weed and their communism for all I care. Meanwhile I will be on the Nevada border administering libertarian purity tests to any refugees.

    2. So I’m confused: you’re not going to support Harborside/Oakland here because a union also happens to support it? Even though a victory in court by Harborside/Oakland will have far-reaching consequences for jurisdictions to your political liking? I fail to see how that’s rational.

      1. Exactly, and I would Imagine they do not drive automobiles,and have no electricity, or plumbing,

      2. “So I’m confused: you’re not going to support Harborside/Oakland here because a union also happens to support it?”

        I still support legalization, and I’d like Harborside/Oakland to win this fight. ..but I just threw up a little typing that.

        I’m just saying we should keep our eyes open. Harborside/Oakland isn’t exactly an innocent, big-eyed bunny we should fee sorry for–on any other issue. They just happen to be on the good side of exactly ONE issue, i.e., broken clocks, twice a day.

        Rooting for them in this fight isn’t like rooting for the good guy. It’s more like saying you think some terrorist like Osama bin Laden should be given a fair trial.

        The City of Oakland is so far to the left, they make Barack Obama look right-wing by comparison.

        You dig deep enough into Harborside/Oakland, and I suspect you’d find that they’re emblematic of the kind of crony capitalism, redistributive socialism, and public employee unions infiltration that always has been, is, and always will be every libertarian’s natural enemy.

      3. We were allied with Stalin to beat Hitler. That didn’t mean that he was our friend.

  6. I would.

    1. There isn’t a thick enough paper bag in the world.

    2. If she was 50 years younger and I was 50 years older…

      1. Google says she was born in 1961.

        1. *Does math*

          Damn, that’s a hard 54.

          1. Being that evil takes a toll.

            1. Ok, if I was 50 years older and she *looked* 50 years younger…

            2. 54? She’s got to be dying her hair evil white.

              1. Lot’s of people go white early. Look at Steve Martin.

                1. Yeah, but he’s not evil.

          2. She looks like Joan Allen after she’s been dead for five days.

            1. I was going to say “Or that actress in the Bourne movies” but then I looked up who the actress was. That’s uncanny.

            2. That’s Lucius Malfoy after the “operation”.

    3. Maybe take the edge off that schnoz, and bolt on a pair of 500cc crowd pleasers, and I’m down.


      1. We need to standardize this. Is it going to be TIWTANLW or TIWTANFL? Personally, I like the second because it’s close to TANSTAAFL.

        1. +1 Niven.

        2. We need to standardize this.


          1. Bah. Voluntary standardization is perfectly in line with libertarian philosophy.

  7. “Your skin is so dark on mine,” Melinda whispered to Barry.

    “You’re not the first old white woman I have been with, but you are the whitest, girl,” Barry cooed, his face buried in the brittle nest of her hair. “Your eyes are like a sled dog. I want to fuck you running on the tundra.”

    “Oh, Mr. President. You are so articulate,” she whispered.

    “Better fucking know it, bitch.” Barry pull away from her and spit in his hand. “I’m gonna get your old pussy wet, and I’m gonna fuck it ’til it tears.” He began to massage the white mess between her pallid thighs.

    “I want your cock inside me, Mr. President!”

    “Yeah, you keep calling me that. I’m gonna fuck you good girl. Hold on, though.”

    Barry reached over to his bedside table and pulled out a little box. He deftly rolled a joint while Melinda watched in horror.

    “Mr. President! You smoke the demon weed?!?”

    “Yeah, baby. Everybody does it. You wanna hit?”

    “No, sir! I’m shocked that you would even ask. I’ve overseen so many marijuana conviction under Eric.”

    “It ain’t a crime if the President tokes it, girl. If you’re not going to have any, why don’t you start sucking my big old Presidential dick?”

    Melinda watched him spark up the j and take a long hit before she bent to his crooked penis. Barry let the joint dangle from his lips as he used both hands to force her head down on his penis.

    Over her gagging Barry told her, “Now this is America, Linda.”

    “Muhlinduh,” she said around his bent member.

    “Shut up, bitch.”

    1. “Oh, Mr. President. You are so articulate,” she whispered.


    2. I’m speechless.

    3. *jacks furiously*

    4. he white mess between her pallid thighs


    5. Does he use a teleprompter during his sex acts?

      1. Is his O noise “uhhh”?

      2. I am led to imagine that the teleprompter was fully inserted into Melinda’s wildly gaping turd volcano after Barry removed his besmudged fists. I’d call that ‘usage’.

    6. Melinda Haag cake frosted by Barack’s chocolate jizz pistol. What a fucking great bit of randomness this is.

  8. Smaller joints are fine- it is the big joints Haag will use federal power to destroy.

  9. Why Is the DOJ Still Trying to Close a City-Supported Oakland Pot Dispensary?

    Because they can. And because it’s the nation’s largest pot dispensary. And, FYTW.

  10. I think it’s another of those jilted lover prosecutor deals. They never forget a slight.

  11. It’s like the last death throes of the prohibitionists trying to regulate behaviors. We are seeing all kinds of crap coming out about pot in order to stifle an open discussion. Legalize it and then have open realistic discussions on it’s pros and cons.

  12. “Haag first targeted Harborside Health Center, a $25-million-a-year business widely considered to be the nation’s largest marijuana dispensary, in July 2012 on grounds that the facility had grown too big.”

    So. . . “Too Big to Jail” means banksters only, I guess. . .

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