Medical Marijuana: Oakland Rallies Behind Harborside Health Center

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Shortly after the Feds announced their campaign against Harborside Health Center -- the nation's largest and most famous medical marijuana dispensary -- Oakland city officials are rallying behind the prescription pot shop, warning that the cannabis crackdown would have critical economic and social consequences.

Harborside has also shot back, telling customers in a statement: "Harborside has nothing to be ashamed of, and will contest the Federal actions openly and publicly, with every legal means at our disposal. 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."

Added the management:

"Steve and Andrew DeAngelo, Dave Wedding Dress, and the management and staff of Harborside Health Center look forward to working with our patients, other dispensaries, activist organizations, and political allies to confront and stop this latest effort by the federal government to frustrate the will of the voters, and deny medicine to those in need. Our fight may be long, but it is just, and in the end we shall be victorious. We look forward to being there with you when that great day comes."

City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan was one of many local pols voicing support for Harborside, telling reporters at a Thursday press conference: "We cannot afford the money, we cannot afford the waste of law enforcement resources, and we cannot afford the loss of jobs that this would entail."

Oakland revenue manager Dave McPherson, at that same press conference, explained that dispensaries' business taxes are about 2.5 percent city's overall biz tax revenue, $54 million. City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente told reporters that this money can't be overlooked, as the city keeps cutting its police force and must return $21 million in redevelopment funds to the state, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Oakland City Atty. Barbara J. Parker, onetime federal prosecutor, said in a written statement:

"Fifteen years ago, Californians voted to decriminalize medical cannabis in California. 
Oakland's regulations and permitting requirements make it possible for patients to 
access safe, affordable medical cannabis to alleviate their pain and suffering.  

I am deeply dismayed that the federal government would seek to deprive Californians 
of this vital medicine. These actions will force patients into the underground market 
of street corners and back alleys, undermining public safety and endangering their 
health and lives.  

As Oakland's City Attorney and a former Assistant US Attorney, I strongly oppose 
federal actions against members of Oakland's business community who are complying 
with California and Oakland laws and regulations and paying their fair share of taxes."

As detailed by the Los Angeles Times, Harborside has effectively set medical marijuana industry standards, such as lab testing weed to measure levels of active chemicals.

The business -- which employs 125 people and pays $3.5 million in taxes -- offers acupuncture, pain management, and "other free wellness services" as well.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.



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