Harborside Health Center Back in Federal Court Thursday

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Oakland (and the country) is bleeding from gun violence. Aren't you stoked that US Attorney Melinda Haag is spending scarce resources fighting a state-legal anti-nausea botanical for cancer patients? We aren't.

The legal maneuvers continue this week in the US government's forfeiture case against Harborside Health Center's dispensary in Oakland, and its second location in San Jose. Representatives from Harborside are scheduled to appear at 10 a.m. Thursday in US District Court, Courtroom D, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco.

The court will hear three motions: two from Harborside's landlords asking the feds to make the club stop selling pot, and one from the City of Oakland asking the feds to stay those motions while it fights the federal government's forfeiture action.

HHC operator Stephen DeAngelo speaks at a protest against the forfeiture of Harborsides leased property at 1840 Embarcadero
  • David Downs
  • HHC operator Stephen DeAngelo speaks at a protest against the forfeiture of Harborside's leased property at 1840 Embarcadero

In a statement released Monday evening, HHC Executive Director Steve DeAngelo said, “Harborside is in full compliance with the laws of the State of California, and the regulations of the City of Oakland—and will continue to use every legal means at our disposal to protect the rights granted to medical cannabis patients by the voters in 1996. We are confident that a Bay Area jury will recognize and support Harborside’s contributions to the community. We hope Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James will deny the motion for a preliminary injunction, and allow us to present our case to a jury of our peers.”

Lead attorney for Harborside Health Center, Henry Wykowski, said that “Harborside is prepared to address this matter fully in open court and at a trial on the merits. What is at stake here is the future of the medical cannabis industry and the well-being of hundreds of thousands of patients who obtain benefit from the recommended use of cannabis."

Courthouse News Service also reports that the City of Oakland has filed a separate brief asserting its standing in the federal case. US attorneys have argued the City of Oakland should be excluded from the Harborside forfeiture proceedings, but Oakland asserted: "Oakland has standing to protects its economic and regulatory/public health and safety interests ... including sales tax revenues, and the possibility of actual injury to its ability to function as a municipality in regulating persons and property within its jurisdiction control."

Oakland will lose millions of dollars in tax revenue if its permitted dispensaries close, the brief noted. The "federal government exceeded its authority by illegally enforcing the [Controlled Substances Act] through the forfeiture proceedings, thereby jeopardizing the public welfare of Oakland and its residents. Illegal enforcement of the CSA will also cause economic harm from lost tax revenue, and increased costs of police enforcement, in addition to untold costs associated with channeling thousands of patients into an unregulated black market."

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