Oakland Sues Federal Prosecutors Over Medical Marijuana Crackdown

The city of Oakland became the first known jurisdiction yesterday to sue the federal government over its attempts to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries, escalating the local-federal battle over criminalization of the drug.

Federal prosecutors have ramped up crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries in many of the 17 states where they have been legalized, after a 2011 shift in the federal government’s position that it would not prioritize prosecution of medical use of the drug.

Harborside Health Center, the country’s largest dispensary with locations in Oakland and San Jose, Calif. and more than 100 employees, has since been subject to multiple attacks, but has managed to stay open, with a case pending on a move to evict Harborside and seize its assets.

Oakland’s lawsuit alleges that the federal government exceeded its authority in its civil forfeiture action against Harborside, by missing time limits for filing suit after years of allowing the operation to proceed, and by acting contrary to earlier statements and actions that indicated it would not crack down on those dispensaries in compliance with state law. In June, Attorney General Eric Holder told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee the Department of Justice was “not going to use limited resources that we have to go after people who are acting in conformity with state law,” although official DOJ policy on this issue has fluctuated. The complaint filed against Harborside makes no mention of state law.

– Read the entire article at Think Progress.