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President Obama seeks campaign contributions from Oakland community after federal interference causes hundreds to lose jobs and healthcare benefits
News conference scheduled in conjunction with presidential visit: Monday, July 23, 2012 at 1:45 p.m.
Oaksterdam University, 1600 Broadway, Oakland, CA
President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the heart of America's medical marijuana community just days after his appointed U.S. Attorney, Melinda Haag, intentionally and admittedly targeted Harborside Health Center - a state-legal medical cannabis facility - in violation of administration policy.
On July 23, President Obama is scheduled to give a speech at the Fox Theater in Oakland. To coincide with this event, advocates are planning a permitted, peaceful protest originating at Oakland's City Hall; a press conference at Oaksterdam University; and concurrent actions in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado.
Multiple businesses in the vicinity of the Fox Theater are also expected to display green flags on their storefronts in solidarity with local medical cannabis collectives targeted by the administration.
Despite continued reassurances to the public, Congress, and the medical marijuana community that it is not targeting individuals acting in compliance with state law, the Obama Administration continues to undermine state medical marijuana programs through a multi-pronged attack.
|Aaron Smith, National Cannabis Industry Association: "It is time for the Obama administration to be honest with medical cannabis patients and their providers"|
The IRS is pursuing aggressive audits on some facilities invoking a little-known provision in the tax code that disallows medical marijuana dispensaries from deducting normal business expenses; the Treasury Department pressured banks to deny medical marijuana providers bank accounts and has forced a cash-only market; and the Department of Justice continually seeks new excuses to shut down state-legal businesses.
As recently as last month, Attorney General Eric Holder reaffirmed 2008 campaign promises from President Obama, the 2009 Ogden memo, and his own testimony from December 2011, all of which promised to allow state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers to operate without federal interference. In sworn testimony on June 7, Holder stated "We limit our enforcement efforts to those individuals, organizations that are acting out of conformity with state law," prompting two members of the House Judiciary Committee to submit questions for the record, requesting that Holder explain which state or federal law each targeted provider was breaking.
Yet on July 7, Harborside Health Center in Oakland was only the latest state- and local-compliant medical marijuana provider to receive threatening action from the Department of Justice.
"President Obama should not make a fundraising visit in Oakland - the heart of the medical cannabis industry that his administration is seeking to destroy - without first ordering Eric Holder and others in his administration to immediately cease actions that are harming patients, undermining state law, and contrary to the president's stated policy," said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. "Further, the Department of Justice must hold all medical marijuana-related cases for review to ensure compliance with the Ogden Memo's directives."
Approximately three-quarters of the American public believes the federal government should respect state medical marijuana laws. Seventeen states and Washington DC allow the use of medical marijuana, amounting to at least one million patients, tens of thousands of jobs, and hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue.
Few have been safe from interference from the Obama Administration's Treasury and Justice Departments. In Colorado, state-legal medical marijuana providers have received orders to move or close due to allegedly improper zoning. In Washington State, the U.S. Attorney threatened to prosecute state officials for regulating state-legal medical marijuana providers, which resulted in delaying or killing implementation of medical marijuana laws not just in Washington, but also in Arizona, Rhode Island and Delaware.
And in California, Harborside joins the growing list of prominent state-legal medical marijuana businesses targeted by U.S. Attorney Haag, including Berkeley Patients Group, El Camino Wellness, The Marin Alliance, The Vapor Room, Hope Net, and Oaksterdam University, a medical cannabis educational center and ironically, the second largest donor to the Fox Theater restoration project completed in 2009.
Press conference details
Monday, July 23 - 1:45pm (doors open at 1:30)
Oaksterdam University, 2nd floor auditorium
1600 Broadway Oakland, CA 94612
Steve DeAngelo, executive director, Harborside Health Center
James P. Gray, Orange County Superior Court Judge (Ret.)
Dale Sky Jones, executive chancellor, Oaksterdam University
Aaron Smith, Executive Director, National Cannabis Industry Association
Bob Swanson, Office of Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley
Yvonne Westbrook White, multiple sclerosis patient harmed by federal crackdown