Oakland Sues Obama Administration over Loss of Tax Revenue Due to Medical Marijuana Crackdown
In what may be the first of its kind, Oakland, California, is suing the federal government for cracking down on one of the largest medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.
Federal law enforcement began forfeiture proceedings in July against Harborside Health Center, which has operations in Oakland and San Jose.
Attorneys for the city said the lawsuit represents the first time a municipality has taken the U.S. Department of Justice to court on behalf of a marijuana dispensary. In 2011, Harborside paid $1.4 million in business taxes to the city of Oakland and its sales are estimated to generate about $18 million a year in sales tax for Alameda County. Oakland also claims that without a legal source of marijuana, many users with resort to illegal sources, which will lead to an increase in crime and the need for increased law enforcement expenses.
In addition to depriving the city and county of much-needed revenue, Oakland’s lawyers contend that the actions against Harborside contradict the Obama administration’s promise to leave dispensaries obeying state and local laws alone.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said her office went after Harborside because of its size. “The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need,” Haag told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Haag has not accused the dispensary of selling marijuana to people without a prescription.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
City of Oakland Fights Federal Clampdown on Medical Marijuana (by Chris Marshall, Courthouse News Service)
Oakland Sues Feds Over Pot Dispensary (by Matthai Kuruvila, San Francisco Chronicle)
City of Oakland v. Eric Holder (U.S. District Court, Northern California) (pdf)
Obama Agents Raid Leading Marijuana University (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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