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Oakland loses fight with FBI to save Harborside dispensary

By Oscar Pascual |

Oakland’s bid to save their most famous marijuana dispensary has been halted.

The city on Thursday lost an appeal to block the federal forfeiture of Harborside Health Center — the nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary by reputation, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

However, that doesn’t mean all is lost for Harborside, one of the city’s biggest taxpayers with annual sales of about $25 million worth of cannabis.

Despite the setback, the club will not close for the time being.

“The panel ruled that Oakland had jurisdiction to sue under Section III where Oakland claimed to have suffered sufficient damages related to the erosion of its tax revenues. However, the panel also considered that judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act was precluded because the government’s decision to file the forfeiture was entrusted by law to the discretion of the agency, and because allowing of the lawsuit would unduly disrupt the existing forfeiture framework.” the ruling states.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision stems from a review of a previous lower court ruling against the City of Oakland’s lawsuit alleging a federal shutdown of a city-approved and regulated pharmacy would violate the law. are with California voter-approved medical marijuana laws.

Despite the court’s anti-Oakland ruling, the judges recognized that the dispensary’s loss would be a huge blow to many of the city’s interests, such as generating tax revenue and keeping marijuana sales in legal stores in the United States. rather than through the black market, which could lead to an increase in crime rates.

“I was very pleased that the court agrees that the City of Oakland will suffer significant serious injuries if Harborside is closed,” Oakland City attorney Barbara Parker told the court. Mercury News. “I am baffled by the court’s other finding that despite acknowledging that we will have this injury, there is no cure for it.”

Harborside’s history of legal battles has its roots in San Francisco’s U.S. attorney Melinda Haag’s attempt to close the dispensary in 2012, under the suspicion that it is so large that they would likely be selling medical marijuana products to customers without medical advice. .

Haag filed a suit in July 2012 to seize the pharmacy. A similar forfeiture was filed against Berkeley Patient Group in 2013.

Despite Haag’s term expiring on September 1, Harborside executive director Stephen DeAngelo is likely to see more legal battles to come.

“This ruling will have no effect on Harborside or our patients for the foreseeable future,” DeAngelo told the United States Mercury News. “This is just one step in a process that has been underway for several years, and we expect to continue for years to come unless the federal government decides to drop the case.”

Photo credit: Flickr.com/SpotUs

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