Medical Marijuana

Feds Agree to Tolerate the Country's Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary

After trying to shut down the Harborside Health Center for years, the DOJ gives up.


Reason TV

The Justice Department, which has been trying to shut down Oakland's Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, since 2012, is backing down. Yesterday Oakland officials, who have supported the dispensary all along, announced that the feds had agreed to let it stay open.

"We celebrate the release from federal prosecution," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. "We believe in compassion. We believe in health."

The announcement comes a few weeks after the DOJ abandoned its efforts to enforce an injunction against another California dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM). In allowing MAMM to reopen, the feds let stand a ruling that said such enforcement actions against state-legal dispensaries violate a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment, which prohibits the DOJ from using appropriated funds to prevent states from implementing their medical marijuana laws. 

Harborside had argued that U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag's campaign against the dispensary likewise violated the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment, which was first enacted at the end of 2014. Haag, who had made a point of targeting dispensaries despite the DOJ's policy of tolerating marijuana suppliers who comply with state law, left office last September.

"As of today, Harborside Health Center is in the clear and will no longer have to worry about a looming raid," said Oakland Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. "Supporters are pleased to hear that the case has been dropped so that patients suffering from chronic pain can have peace of mind that they will be able to get their medicine through safe dispensaries. By taking this stance in Oakland, we have shown the rest of the country what's possible."

Although the details of the deal between Harborside and the DOJ are unclear at this point, it looks like the Obama administration is finally trying to reconcile the actions of federal prosecutors with the DOJ's policy of forbearance. Steve DeAngelo, the dispensary's executive director, said the agreement "signals the beginning of the end of federal prohibition."

Prior Reason coverage of Harborside's fight with the feds here. Reason TV on the case:

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  1. So no federal prosecutors were willing to follow Melinda “I’m in control here, in the Drug War” Haag into career suicide for so blatantly making Obama into a liar on administration policy on local marijuana laws?

  2. We Americans…our freedoms are sickening. Who else has a government so benevolent?

  3. Not good enough.

    Miss Piggy…I mean Boss Haag…needs to be impeached, removed from office, and forbidden from holding federal office again after so clearly defying Congress.

    If Congress had testicles, they’d do it. Their laws aren’t supposed to be suggestions.

    1. Misappropriation of federal funds is a crime. She should do time for it.

  4. “It’s a trap!”

  5. Although the details of the deal between Harborside and the DOJ are unclear at this point, it looks like the Obama administration is finally trying to reconcile the actions of federal prosecutors with the DOJ’s policy of forbearance.

    What’s to reconcile? The President of the United States, the chief executive officer of the federal government, the head-man-in-charge, said “This is the policy”, the Attorney General said “Yes, sir”, the Department of Justice said “Yes, sir”; an employee of the DoJ, an underling, a nobody, said “Fuck you, you ain’t the boss of me” and kept right on doing whatever the hell she felt like doing – and nothing else happened. Her bosses did exactly jack and shit about her defiance until she decided on her own to give up the fight. How is that not a shining example of the rule of men rather than the rule of law? And isn’t that what we’re all about now? Aren’t we governed by a post-Constitutional might-makes-right band of thugs, where the law is whatever you can get away with saying the law is?

    1. until she decided on her own to give up the fightfind another job 7-8months ago and let her replacement give up the fight.

  6. Constitution Party nominee Darrell Castle has a day job as head of a national law firm.

    In the latter capacity, he advertises his willingness to file wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of the families of those killed by cops.

    “I’m incredibly grateful for the men and women who serve in the Memphis police force and risk their own lives every day. I want to see them well-protected, both financially and under the law. At the same time, there are real problems happening out there, from the shooting of unarmed suspects to militarized raids on the wrong homes. I’ve seen both happen in our own city.

    “In general, I believe wrongful death suits can be an effective way for victims to pursue justice. Many people are uncomfortable with prosecuting police for misconduct, especially if the act in question appeared to be a horrible mistake. I understand that, but I also understand the desire for justice when you lose a loved one in a way that seems, far too often, preventable.”

    If he ever gets mainstream media attention, this little gem will get mentioned.

    1. “our own city” = Memphis, Tenn

    2. Oops, please go to the A. M. links for that discussion.


  8. OT but not OT: The other day I was over at my niece’s and she was walking her son through the steps of buying an online game. Her sister asked where the boy had gotten the money to buy the game and she said it was his vacation money. The other week was spring break and her family had gone to Disney, instead of having the boys bug her 24/7 to buy them everything they saw she simply gave them both $100 and said “Here’s your spending money, buy whatever you want but don’t ask me for anything more”. And both the boys came back from Disney with almost the whole $100. Her sister laughed because that’s exactly what she does with her kids, too – it’s amazing how much shit the kids “gotta have” when it’s Mommy and Daddy’s money they’re spending and how fast they decide they don’t need it when you give them some money and say “here, this is your budget, spend it however you like but that’s all you get”.

    1. If only we had the sense to arrange government spending the same way. Give each congress-critter say $4 billion, tell them it’s up to them to allocate “their” money as they see fit amongst all the various government programs and agencies and that’s what the budget will be – and whatever’s left over they get to stick half in their pocket and the other half goes back to the Treasury. How fast do you suppose would the federal government be down-sized and running a surplus on a $2.5 trillion budget? How many choices for office do you suppose you would see on the next ballot? How many of them would be competing almost strictly on the issue of how much they intend to cut unnecessary spending? However “unfair” it might seem to pay crooks to stop stealing from you, it’s a pragmatic solution and, who knows, maybe if we pay them enough we’ll get a better class of crooks.

    2. I’ve done this since my kids were like four. They are some mad bargain hunters at this point.

  9. Is that a fedora or an upside down pot plant pot?

    1. Would a hipster be able to tell the difference?

  10. Although the details of the deal between Harborside and the DOJ are unclear at this point, it looks like the Obama administration is finally trying to reconcile the actions of federal prosecutors with the DOJ’s policy of forbearance.

    So, Obama will pardon Charlie Lynch?

    Damn, I’m not sure how I managed to type that with a straight face.

    1. If Mr. Lynch sang Pardon me, boy, would that be racist?

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