Oakland councilperson responds to Harborside Health Center targeting by feds

Discovery Channel's 'Weed Wars' profiled the recently federally-threatened Harborside Health Center.

Have you heard the news about our most Hollywood dispensary getting put on notice by the feds? Harborside Health Center staff, stars of everyone's favorite marijuana reality show Weed Wars, arrived to work July 9 to a letter from US Attorney Melinda Haag.

She's no one's favorite pen pal in the medical cannabis industry these days. (xoxo) In the letter, she filed civil forfeiture actions against Harborside, despite the fact that unlike most of her office's previous targets, the two Harborside dispensaries are not within 1,000 feet of a school or park. After the federal raid of educational institution Oaksterdam University in April it seems that now, all dispensaries are fair game for federal targeting. This could be curtains for patients' safe and easy access to cannabis. 

Haag explained her office's reasoning in a statement released yesterday.

This office has used its limited resources to address those marijuana dispensaries that operate close to schools, parks and playgrounds. As I have said in the past, this is a non-exclusive list of factors relevant to whether we should commence civil forfeiture actions against marijuana properties, and circumstances may require us to address other situations. 

I now find the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside. The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.

The filing of the civil forfeiture complaints against the two Harborside properties is part of our measured effort to address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the Northern District of California.

Basically, no rationale for targeting Harborside besides the fact that it's a big operation (probably the largest in California.) The situation echoes the recent federal raid of cannabis educational institution Oaksterdam University. Harborside has struggled in the past with castigating audits by the IRS, which declared that the collective was unable to claim simple business expenses on its taxes. 

Oakland city councilperson Rebecca Kaplan recently released a statement in response. Here is the full text:

We are disappointed to learn that yet another licensed, legal and locally regulated medical cannabis facility has come under federal attack.

The last time that the federal government used its resources to go after a permitted facility with no history of crime or violence, there was a school shooting taking place across town while federal agents tagged and bagged medical marijuana plants.

We can’t let this happen again.

The Justice Department has said in the past that it wouldn’t target medical marijuana.

They went back on their word – starting to target medical cannabis facilities allowed under California law.  Then, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said they are specifically targeting cannabis facilities located within 1,000 feet of parks and schools.

Let’s be clear: Harborside Health Center is in compliance with our democratically-enacted laws – and is not near either a park or a school.

During the raid on Oaksterdam University, the federal government used cops – this time they’re using lawyers.

If federal prosecutors have extra time available, I ask – on behalf of my constituents all across the city – that they instead prosecute the illegal gun dealers who are the source of death and violence in Oakland.

Federal agents have worked successfully with local law enforcement this year to go after guns and violence – and we are deeply thankful and appreciative of that help.

That's what we need more of.

If there are federal resources available, we need them directed against the violent perpetrators and co-conspirators of the senseless gun violence on our streets. 

Local news media reported recently that, on the day of the federal raid and the school shooting, local law enforcement said the federal raid against Oaksterdam University ‘drained the vast majority of [the department's] west-end staffing thus resulting in several priority calls being stacked — something that might have [been] prevented.

Wasting resources going after legal, licensed and locally regulated medical marijuana facilities is not only inappropriate, but directly harms our ability to fight crime and respond to violence in our city.

We respectfully ask the Justice Department to devote any available resources to fight gun crime and stop the interstate flow of illegal guns into our city.

Thank you.


can't really complain when the Feds shut them down or seize their assets.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 10:46 am

The reality is the feds' are acting in an unconstitutional manner. Here's the text of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution:

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."


Since the US Constitution does not delegate the power to outlaw particular drugs to the federal govt, that power is reserved to the states or to the ppl.

It'd be nice if a high-ranking official from one of the states the feds' are targeting would come out and say the feds don't have the power they are claiming, only the states do acc to the USC. The text of the USC is about as straight forward as one could get and its "High Time" the feds were called out on this.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

By that argument, individual states could reintroduce slavery

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 4:43 am

You're not thinking too logically. The 10th Amendment ("The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.") does not mean unconstitutional laws (laws violating some part of the Constitution) can be passed by the states and upheld by the Supreme Court (SC).

The 10th Amendment is one of the bedrocks of our country - states do have a lot of freedom to run their own affairs - as long as they are not violating the Constitution. States could not re-introduce slavery because it DOES violate the Constitution but nothing about pot violates it. The states, acc to the Constitution, can do what they want with pot. It should not be a federal manner at all but no state has challenged the feds and taken it to the SC.

If the SC were to rule against a state and for the feds, it would mean the text of the Constitution means nothing and that any SC can interpret it anyway they want - including coming to a conclusion opposite to the text of the USC which would be the case if they did rule for the feds.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

... for good and bad.

Do an internet search for "commerce clause" + "medical marijuana" -- I doubt I can post a link due to the ever more frustrating SFBG.com spam filter.

SFBG staff: I'm notifying you right now that whether it is important to you or not, my growing frustration with your spam filter bullshit is growing tiresome.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 14, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

I really like reading through an article that can
make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

Posted by www.CLASSICSUNGLASSES.ORG on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 11:24 pm

Our ancestors fought and died for the constitution and state law and you skumbags sit hear and agree with this blasphmey? Shame on you go drink and drive? Or better yet take a xanax

Posted by Guest on Jul. 13, 2012 @ 11:11 am

duh einstein

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 9:16 am

It's about time our country recognized that a lot of Americans like to get high with something other than alcohol. If the government really wanted to make people safe then it would legalize every recreational drug that's safer than booze.

That would retain alcohol as the most harmful recreational drug you can legally buy, and at the same time would give people the option of legally choosing drugs that are safer than alcohol - and that's definitely NOT something we can do today.

If the government really wants to keep us safe then why is it bending over backwards to make us unsafe?

Posted by jway on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 11:55 am

But meanwhile everyone knows that MJ is illegal federally, and spending 2 million on a building to sell illegald rugs is asking to have it conficated. They could at least have borrowed it all and not lost their equity, except of course that no bank would lend on it.

Too bad Oakland's only successful business is illegal but then that's fitting somehow for the US city with the 4th worse crime rate in the nation.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

I hope someone rolls you up in a massive
leaf and smokes you. this nation is backwards
end of story.

Posted by Truthbk on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

I couldn't agree more. People seem to be blind to the far-reaching affects of alcohol. It boils down to nothing but a popularity contest between the two & makes no difference which is actually the 'safer' drug. We have a raging epidemic between alcohol & prescription drug abuse & all the impact(s) they have on our society yet we choose to go after Marijuanna?? I'm not a marijuanna user , nor am I a prescription user, or an alcohol user. Never have been. But where 'safety' is concerned it's really a no-brainer. People are ignorant & brainwashed by the hype our own government put out.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

Just because a God given plant is deemed "illegal" by a corruption government and it threatens oil, timberanlastics because of its versatility doesn't mean it's dangerous. It means the naïve prohibitionist public need to read upon INDEP ENDENT medical studies and not just swallow the propaganda and yellow journalism perpetuated by our US government. One just needs to look at Portugal for one example. Prohibitionists, do some effing research.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

Can we all keep warm by burning leaves?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

Yes.. It is one of the best plants for making biofuels...It actually consumes more co2 growing than the manufacturing and burning of the fuel creates...Imagine a fuel that has a negative impact on greenhouse gases.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

yup oakland and its illegal rugs issue.
why cant we all just smoke?
we already drink and drive and die.
you feds really need to pull head out of arse and go after the real american criminals:
the banks, the IRS and Rush Limpbow.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 12, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

If you support Harborside please sign their petition online. Go to http://saveharborside.org/, there is a link to the petition on the top right of the main page. You can also view videos and read about what has been going on.

They need all the help they can get in the face of massive federal pressure. The Feds have been abusing their power for too long, trampling on State's rights, they have seriously crossed a line here coming after a collective that is fully following state law.

To anyone who says, "dispensaries should know they are breaking Federal law and should be shut down," Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks broke the law quite a bit as well, would you have similar said they should be "shut down?" Civil disobedience is how we stand up to a corrupt government that refuses to recognize our rights. The existence of a medical cannabis industry is major action of civil disobedience in an attempt to change the laws of this country back to how they once were. When this country was founded, many of the founders smoked pot and the majority had to grow hemp BY LAW in the colonies (read the Emperor Wears No Clothes, by Jack Herer). Let us return to being an America that embraces personal freedom, and an America that embraces science.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 30, 2012 @ 10:00 am

Here we go again with the never ending debate about whether marijuana should be made legal. I think the ones that are really suffering are the patients who do need medical marijuana for their various ailments. If the Health Centre is shut down, many of these patients would have no other alternatives than to buy their weed from the black market. Would the authorities want that?

Posted by Simon on Oct. 29, 2012 @ 1:10 am

One gets disappointed to learn that most of the times they are found being licensed. It’s moreover a legal and locally regulated medical cannabis facility that really has come under federal attack. Looks superb… doesn’t it???

Posted by Narconon Fresh Start on Mar. 04, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

Related articles

  • Dab'll do ya

    Despite the actions of our president, we will continue to dab

  • Panther medicine

    An original member of the Black Panther connects the dots between marijuana access and justice

  • Narc fetish

    Weed vs. cancer, Fiona Apple vs. fascists

  • Also from this author