Feds Target Medical Marijuana Operation

The federal government is trying to close down the country’s largest medical marijuana dispensary operation, filing papers to seize properties in Oakland and San Jose where Harborside Health Center does business. Copies of the federal Complaint for Forfeiture were taped to the front doors of the two dispensaries Tuesday, alleging that the business was “operating in violation of federal law.”

Those who advocate the use of medical marijuana, as well as some state and local officials, decried the action, saying it is harmful to patients who are in legitimate need of the drug and breaks several promises by President Obama’s Justice Department that it was only going to target the operations near schools and parks or otherwise in violation of California state laws. The U.S. attorney for Northern California, Melinda Haag, said she now has “the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside because they presented unique opportunities for abuse.”

According to Norml.org, an organization dedicated to reform medical marijuana laws in California, “56% of voters approved Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996. The law took effect the following day. It removes state-level criminal penalties on the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana by patients who possess a “written or oral recommendation” from their physician that he or she “would benefit from medical marijuana.” Patients diagnosed with any debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been “deemed appropriate and has been recommended by a physician” are afforded legal protection under this act. Conditions typically covered by the law include but are not limited to: arthritis; cachexia; cancer; chronic pain; HIV or AIDS; epilepsy; migraine; and multiple sclerosis. No set limits regarding the amount of marijuana patients may possess and/or cultivate were provided by this act, though the California Legislature adopted guidelines in 2003.”

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