Earlier this month it was reported that the federal government plans on shutting down the largest medical marijuana dispensary operator in California known as Harborside Health Center. Two dispensaries, one in Oakland and another in San Jose, are in the process of being seized by authorities, where both locations were gifted with copies of the federal Complaint for Forfeiture taped on their front doors. The papers, taped on the doors on Tuesday July 10, stated that the dispensaries were “operating in violation of federal law.”
Largest Operated California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Targeted
Needless to say, those who support medical marijuana and even some state officials frowned upon the federal government’s less than expected action. While some individuals like the U.S. attorney for Northern California, Melinda Haag, say that the action was warranted because the California medical marijuana dispensaries presented opportunities for abuse, others are rather upset. He explains:
“People are not going to stop using cannabis, they’re just going to buy it in the illegal marketplace … on the streets. Why are federal prosecutors using their discretion to do something so profoundly destructive” said Steve DeAngelo, co-founder of Haborside and leader in the movement for medical marijuana use.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder told the House Judiciary Committee in June that the federal agents were only after large-scale growers and medical marijuana dispensaries that have “come up with ways in which they are taking advantage of these state laws, and going beyond that which the states have authorized.”
Interestingly, Harborside claims to have over 108,000 customers and over 100 employees, helping the operation to rake in 10’s of millions of dollars in sales each year. The Oakland medical marijuana dispensary alone is claimed to bring in $22 million annually, while the San Jose facility brings in $8 million. Both of the dispensaries end up paying approximately $3 million in taxes to the city and state.
While marijuana use and sales are illegal on a federal level, state laws can in many cases actually allow for marijuana use. The move by the feds breaks promises by President Obama’s Justice Department that it would only target operations near schools and parks or otherwise in violation of the state’s laws. In the case of Harborside, marijuana activists often speak highly of the operation due to professionalism and compliance. “If Harborside is not in compliance with state law, no one is,” said DeAngelo.
But the action against California’s largest medical marijuana dispensary doesn’t only go against political promises, it also impedes our freedom as the people and withholds legitimate medical use of marijuana from those who may benefit from it. If you haven’t yet looked into it, you may not know that the benefits of medical marijuana do truly exist. From treating osteoporosis to even fighting cancer, marijuana has been shown time and time again to possess beneficial properties. Cannabis treatment even threatens the deadly painkiller industry – a gargantuan profiting industry in the Western world.
So it begs the question: Why not legalize marijuana? Until enough individuals openly speak out, this freedom will continue to be withheld.