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Monday, December 17, 2012

Harborside Health Center Chief Asks Obama to Freeze Federal Crackdown on Pot Clubs

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Is Obama just blowing smoke?
  • Is Obama just blowing smoke?

Last week, President Barack Obama informed and entertained pot smokers across the nation with his sorta pro-marijuana comments, claiming (once again) that his administration has bigger problems to tackle than pot.

In short, he fed marijuana advocates the same line from when he was elected in 2008 -- and you know how that turned out.

See also: Obama Explains Marijuana Crackdown -- Sort Of

Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center -- the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary, which is being shuttered by the feds -- responded to the president's hopeful remarks with his own request: Stop the pot crackdown now.

I welcome President Obama's comments about the Colorado and Washington initiatives in his interview with Barbara Walters. However, at the same time President Obama has publicly recognized the will of voters in adult use states, his Justice Department is doing all it can to close licensed, regulated and state-compliant medical cannabis dispensaries like Harborside Health Center. In the past year, U.S. attorneys have forced the closure of over 600 medical cannabis dispensaries in California, and over 1,000 nationwide.

Harborside Health Center, the most reputable and legally compliant dispensary in California, will be in court December 20, to defend ourselves against federal efforts to close our doors forever. These actions are not consistent with the President's most recent -- or past -- statements about federal enforcement priorities in states which have reformed cannabis laws. In light of the President's comments, the Department of Justice should immediately freeze all pending enforcement actions against state-legal medical cannabis providers, and review them to make sure that state legal cannabis users and providers have not been targeted. Harborside is ready to sit down with federal officials and reach a mediated solution to the outstanding legal actions, and we ask them to do so at the earliest possible time. We have already invited U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to visit Harborside for an in-depth tour, so she can see for herself what Oakland's elected and law enforcement officials already know: Harborside has developed and implemented the gold standard for safe, responsible, and legally compliant distribution of cannabis. The federal government should study Harborside, not close us down."

I hope the President will show the same regard for medical cannabis patients that he has extended to recreational users of cannabis, and stop the ongoing federal campaign to close state-legal medical cannabis providers.

In October, the City of Oakland filed a lawsuit against the feds in an attempt to put an end to the rampant crackdown on pot clubs like Harborside, which serves more than 110,000 patients. Last year, the feds announced they would be moving to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries that were deemed too close to schools, and in July, they extended that crackdown to "superstores" like Harborside.

In return, the feds two weeks ago filed an opposing brief, claiming Oakland can't participate in the legal battle to try and save the pot club since it doesn't have any ownership in the facility.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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