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Friday, July 20, 2012

Obama's Oakland Visit: Marijuana Lovers Promise To Be There

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

click to enlarge Is it just us or does Obama look stoned in this photo?
  • Is it just us or does Obama look stoned in this photo?

President Barack Obama's reelection campaign picked office space in downtown Oakland (of which there is plenty available) to house its Bay Area headquarters. The East Bay city has put in the work, and on Monday, Oakland will receive a presidential visitor for the first time in recent memory, when Obama checks in at the Fox Theater for yet another left coast fundraiser.

But this is Oaksterdam, where medical marijuana literally pays the bills, and where the federal Justice Department is attempting to close the state's biggest pot club. So marijuana advocates have organized a welcoming committee for the president -- and it's not friendly.

"Hundreds" of marijuana activists plan to greet the president with Oakland's best-known commodity: a protest.

Both California NORML and Americans for Safe Access are calling out for troops to be ready at noon -- ready and angry to call out Mr. President for allowing his prosecutors to shut down hundreds of dispensaries across California, and a growing number in the Bay Area.

News of Obama's "Betting on California Tour" was released shortly after employees of Harborside Health Center found property forfeiture notices posted on their building's doors one morning before work. The notices were signed by the office of United States Attorney Melinda Haag, whose office will shut down another two dispensaries in San Francisco by the end of the month, bringing her Bay Area total to 10.

Harborside CEO Stephen DeAngelo promised to fight the Justice Department in court.

The feds have also taken clear aim at California's cannabis commander: Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee, who bankrolled 2010's marijuana legalization effort Proposition 19. Lee exited the spotlight and the business after federal agents raided the school and his home in April.

Recall that cannabis advocates feel particularly betrayed by the president: Obama the candidate promised to respect state medical marijuana law, a pledge reaffirmed by Attorney General Eric Holder multiple times. 

As of yet, none of the dispensaries shuttered by Haag have been charged in court or even accused of any specific wrongdoing, other than selling marijuana.

And four days after Holder told a Senate committee that only dispensaries who break "state law" risk prosecution, DEA agents raided El Camino Wellness in Sacramento, a dispensary advocates praised as a model for legal, taxpaying cannabis business.

Americans for Safe Access wants people out at noon Monday at Oakland's City Hall Plaza. There's a 1:45 p.m. press conference at Oaksterdam University.

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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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