In an unprecedented step forward for states’ rights in regards to medical marijuana, the U.S. Attorney’s office has announced they are dropping their case against Harborside Health Center. The announcement means Harborside, one of the nation’s largest dispensaries, will no longer face the looming threat of civil forfeiture actions against them that began in 2012.
“As of today, Harborside Health Center is in the clear and will no longer have to worry about a looming raid,” the Oakland, California-based dispensary said through a release. “Supporters are pleased to hear that the case has been dropped so that patients suffering from chronic pain can have peace of mind that they will be able to get their medicine through safe dispensaries, such as Harborside Health Center. For the whole community, it is welcome to know that our police resources won’t be directed away from fighting serious crime, to shut down a permitted dispensary.”
Today’s announcement that the federal government has dropped the case against Harborside follows an October ruling from federal judge in California who determined the government does not have the authority to block the operations of medical marijuana clubs operating within state law. This ruling, which involved a case against another California dispensary – the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana – came in light of a 2014 amendment proposed by House representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Sam Farr. Adopted by the House and Senate before receiving the presidential seal of approval in 2014, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment prohibits the Department of Justice from using funds towards preventing, “states from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”
In 2012 the DOJ — headed in Northern California by now retired U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag — launched a series of sweeping raids and property forfeiture actions against dispensaries across the state of California. The city of Oakland stood in alliance with Harborside at that time and sued U.S. Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California to prevent the federal government from taking action to shutter the dispensary. While the district court ruled Oakland had no standing to sue the federal government, the city’s actions allowed Harborside to remain open until the case’s appeal could be heard.
Today representatives of Harborside will join Oakland Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan on the steps of city hall to make the announcement that the Harborside case has now been dropped.
“As someone who advocated for Oakland’s nation-leading system to permit, tax and regulate cannabis facilities from the beginning, I have been very pleased at their success in providing clean and safe facilities that contribute positively to the surrounding community,” Kaplan said through a release.“Harborside Health Center has been a strong positive presence in Oakland, both for the patients they serve, the workers they employ, and for the vital public services that are supported by their tax revenues. I am glad that Oakland’s work on the federal case helped keep Harborside open during this dispute, and heartened to know that the threat against them is now removed.”