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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Marijuana Dispensary Mocks U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag With Dr. Seuss-Like Cartoon (Video)

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 6:45 AM

click to enlarge Your local US attorney - DR GEUSS

By most measures, Harborside Health Center's fight with the federal Justice Department is going well. The nation's largest medical cannabis dispensary went untouched for nearly a year during the recent federal crackdown that began in October 2011.

Even now, it's been nearly seven months since U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag moved to shut down the club by seizing the Oakland dispensary's Embarcadero building. During that same time, Harborside won two court decisions allowing it to stay; a third ruling, which will determine if the feds can forfeit the property, will be decided at a jury trial that's yet to be scheduled.

With the major court date looming, the dispensary has produced a parable -- and reduced Haag to a Dr. Seuss-type personage.

click to enlarge Obama in a lab coat? In Geussian form
  • Obama in a lab coat? In Geussian form

In the short, low-budget video "Dr. Geuss" -- as in "goose" -- the dispensary's woes are boiled down simply: All was well in the land of the grass, with a commander in chief who once puffed and passed, when in came a mean lawyer who proclaimed instead -- off with their head!

We paraphrase, but only slightly. Take a look at a somewhat simplified narration of the whole saga to date:

All of the major points are hit upon, though six other dispensaries on top of Vapor Room and Divinity Tree were shut down, and Haag has yet to "shut them all down, one by one." She's also not said "off with their heads" that we know of (which to us is a bit more Carrollish than Geussian). More importantly, it's not entirely clear if the president can end this particular battle in the drug war in one swift Executive Order; it appears Congress, the attorney general, and ultimately the DEA are more in charge here, and Obama himself has alluded that this is Congress' issue, not his.

The "Dr Geuss" behind the little bit of whimsy is Goose Duarte, general manager of Harborside Health Center in San Jose, which the feds have also targeted. The voice in the clip is that of Andrew DeAngelo, the brother of Harborside founder Steven DeAngelo (the fella in the video with the pork pie hat and pigtails), an ACT-trained actor and the GM of Harborside Oakland, who tells us that the idea isn't to mock Haag or to hope a viral video changes Obama's mind.

Haag -- whose name is pronounced "Hayg" and not "Hahg" as it is in the video -- has had a rough go of it, with some very unflattering representations in print and effigy lobbed her way. Does being portrayed as a Blue Meanie-like figure help Harborside's case?

"We did not sit back and ask ourselves how we could further antagonize them, and then came up with 'THE HAAG'," Andrew DeAngelo explained in an e-mail. "What we're trying to do here is make light of a very serious situation."

We did not ask for this fight, but we will not sit back or run away either. That is not how you create change in this country. We could've made a documentary that showed how stressed out and worried we are, how petrified our families are, not to mention our employees. Being in the cross-hairs of the feds is scary as hell. There are all kinds of stories to tell that would be dark and probably angry. But one of the powerful lessons that cannabis has to teach us, one of the healing properties of the plant, is the sense of humor that it brings out in us--the childlike quality that should be a part of our adult lives and is often lost in our modern and hectic world. Cannabis can help restore this and that is the spirit in which THE HAAG was made.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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