If Melinda Haag thought being local United States prosecutor would make her famous, it's doubtful she ever imagined it'd be because of a plant.
Her predecessors Joe Russoniello and Kevin Ryan made names for themselves for returning money to cocaine dealers who used frogmen to smuggle powder ashore, and for zealously prosecuting Barry Bonds for lying about steroids (Ryan wrecked his office in the process). Haag is in the news quite a bit these days because the Obama appointee has been overseeing the Justice Department's role in shuttering the local medical marijuana industry.
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It's said Haag spends less than 10 percent of her staff time on closing pot clubs like Harborside Health Center, the state's
biggest dispensary. Nevertheless, that's a workload that commands 90 percent of the
public's attention, which she claims not to relish. It
also means her briefest public appearances turn into protests, just like cannabis
advocates promise to do this afternoon when Haag will appear at the "21st century prosecutor"
forum at Golden Gate University.
Haag and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón are scheduled to sit on a panel discussion today hosted by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency Policy and Practice Panel. The event is open to the public (pot smokers included), but RSVPs are required. The two prosecutors are slated to speak at 1 p.m.
The S.F. chapter of Americans for Safe Access is spearheading an accompanying demonstration, where cannabis advocates will take Haag to task again for her role in closing eight local cannabis dispensaries since 2011. Haag's office began sending letters to the landlords of local marijuana dispensaries in Oct. 2011, informing the "pot shops" that they must close or face property seizure and maybe even jail time.
Her job isn't exactly on the same level as rooting through garbage to prove a sports scandal, or handing back cash to drug dealers connected to the Contras, but it's definitely something.