Medical marijuana is not making U.S Attorney Melinda Haag's life easy. Among Bay Area cannabis advocates, she's become a loathed figure, scorned and mocked in unflattering effigy. All of this due to her role in the Justice Department's crackdown on state-legal medical marijuana clubs.
Haag has shut down more than a dozen taxpaying "pot shops" in the Bay Area since October 2011, and is working to add the scalp of Harborside Health Center -- the state's biggest pot club -- to her list.
Haag -- who, we have been told, is actually a likable person -- was scheduled to take time out of her busy day Wednesday to participate in an educational panel at Golden Gate University's law school. Then the medical marijuana folks got wind of this event and quickly organized a protest in her honor.
Then Haag got wind of this protest and a few hours before she was scheduled to speak, she bailed.
Haag was scheduled to moderate a panel, The Role of the 21st Century Prosecutor, along with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and Philadelphia DA Seth Williams.
Haag was a "last-minute" cancellation, after cannabis advocates made clear their intentions to take over the panel's Q&A session with such gems as, "Why are you making life more difficult for AIDS and cancer patients?" And connoisseurs of Sour Diesel, but we digress. No word on who filled in for her.
Recall that the administration of President Barack Obama signalled an early acceptance for state-legal medical marijuana. That helped usher in a veritable boom, a "Green Rush" of growers and sellers getting into the business in California.
But it was the licensed, taxpaying dispensaries that fell to Haag's axe, after the prosecutor informed all involved that marijuana was still illegal under federal law and would be treated as such. Under protests from local governments, dispensaries in Fairfax, Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco all shut down under threat of prison terms for their landlords.
"I'm disappointed that Ms. Haag was a no-show for this event," said Caren Woodson, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana users' lobby. "Twenty-first century prosecutors ought to have the courage to show up and account for their actions. When Ms. Haag is ready to come out of hiding, SF ASA with be right there to defend state laws against her continued rogue attacks."
Haag's press people have long greeted every inquiry related to the pot crackdown with a "no comment." So just like Haag, SF Weekly didn't even bother.