|Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, reputedly the world’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, looks over a marijuana display case|
The biggest medical marijuana dispensary on earth has been targeted for closure by federal prosecutors in Northern California.
Harborside Health Center, which is reputedly the biggest cannabis collective on the planet, has been threatened with property seizure by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office, according to spokeswoman Gaynell Rogers, reports The Associated Press.
Employees on Monday found the federal complaints taped to doors at Harborside’s two locations, according to Rogers.
“Harborside has nothing to be ashamed of, and will contest the Federal actions openly and publicly, with every legal means at our disposal,” the collective said in a Wednesday press release. “We look forward to our day in court, and are confident that justice is on our side. Come what may, we shall continue to care for our patients unless we are physically prevented from doing so.
“Harborside is not in imminent danger of closing,” the release states. “We intend to keep the commitment we made six years ago to provide our patients with safe access to the medicine their doctors have recommended, for as long as we possibly can. We will never abandon you.”
Harborside Health Center employs more than 100 people, and is Oakland’s second largest retail tax payer. Last year, HHC paid combined taxes in excess of $3 million, more than a million dollars of which went directly to the City of Oakland.
Should Harborside be forced to close:
• 100,000 patients will return to the illegal marketplace
• Street drug sales and law enforcement costs will both rise
• More than $3 million in tax revenue will be destroyed
• More than 100 current employees will become jobless.
The action represents yet another escalation in a months-long, nationwide crackdown on medical marijuana. Northern California U.S. Attorney Haag has been among the most enthusiastic participants in the crackdown, saying last year she would shut dispensaries that were within 1,000 feet of schools — but Harborside isn’t, according to the AP.
“Harborside isnt even within 1,000 feet of a school, so this would seem to go against everything U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag has said to date about her enforcement priorities,” Tom Angell of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) told Toke of the Town Wednesday afternoon.
Federal prosecutors, including Haag, have in the past attempted to at least give the appearance of adhering to the Ogden Memo and repeated assurances from both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that going after state-complaint providers of medical marijuana wouldn’t be prioritized.
Does the fact that they’re no longer even trying to go by their own guidelines — i.e., the 1,000-foot “rule” — mean that the crackdown is entering an ominous new phase? Stay tuned.
Harborside is encouraging patients to