Before he found Harborside, Jason David was losing hope for his young son Jayden, who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy. In his first five years, Jayden had a seizure every day of his life. He rode in an ambulance 45 times. He tried 22 different medications from around the world, and nothing worked. As a last resort, Jason consulted Harborside Health Center management, who worked with their patient-vendors to develop a non-psychoactive medicinal cannabis product to help Jayden. Since that time, Jayden experienced his first seizure-free day. He is functioning better and experiencing a greater quality of life. Now Jason fears that if the federal government shuts down Harborside, he will be unable to get this specialized, effective, vital medicine for his son.
On Tuesday, July 10, 2012, California’s premier medical cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Center in Oakland and San Jose, received property forfeiture notices from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag. The complaints do not allege any wrongdoing. This latest federal action flies in the face of promises made by Haag to exclusively target dispensaries less than 1000 feet from a school. Harborside Health Center is neither close to a school, nor out of compliance with state law and local ordinances.
Instead, Haag refers to Harborside’s more than 108,000 patients, insisting that “the larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws.” Harborside Health Center has always maintained strict adherence to state law and local ordinances, and is widely considered the nation’s model medical cannabis dispensary. In the letter below, Harborside’s attorney, Henry Wykowski, invites U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to visit Harborside Health Center and tour the facility, to be assured of its complete compliance.
“The closure of Harborside would have an especially destructive effect on our most medically challenged patients, like Jayden David, who need pure and specialized cannabis medicines unavailable at other dispensaries,” says Harborside Health Center co-founder and executive director, Steve DeAngelo. “They are less able to negotiate the dangers of the illegal marketplace, and cannot risk using untested cannabis from unregulated sources. I am not so concerned about what will happen to me if Harborside’s property is seized, but I stay up at night worrying about Jayden and other patients like him.”