California’s oldest medical marijuana dispensary is the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG). United States Attorney Melinda Haag has tried hard the last couple of years to shut the medical marijuana dispensary down. Court proceedings have been occurring, with the City of Berkeley arguing on behalf of the dispensary. Last Fall a judge ruled that the Berkeley had no standing in the case. That decision was appealed, and this week a federal judge ruled in favor of Berkeley and BPG.
The decision in favor of Berkeley and BPG means that a stay has been issued preventing the feds from seizing the dispensary, for now. Per Smell the Truth:
“We’re still surprised given the recent change in the climate surrounding medical cannabis in California that the attorney is being relentless in her fight,” said Victor Pinho, for BPG. “We are emboldened by this judgement and we reaffirm our commitment to our patients and reaffirm our commitment to fighting the good cause of making sure every one who needs access has proper access.”
“We are hopeful that Congress will act quickly to resolve the split between state and Federal marijuana laws by passing bills like Congresswoman Lee’s proposed H.R. 262″ said Tim Schick, Berkeley Patients Group’s Executive Director, referencing the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act introduced on January 9. “In the meantime,” he added, “we look forward to continuing to serve our local patient population.”
BPG was founded in 1999, and became an international model for safe access to medical cannabis. The City of Berkeley celebrated BPG Day in 2009 and again in 2014. Ms. Haag said she was using her discretion to seize BPG because it was too close to a pre-school. Mayor Tom Bates disputes that claim.
Melinda Haag is also trying to shut down Harborside Health Center, another very prominent medical marijuana dispensary in California. I have long wondered what a clear, effective medical marijuana dispensary law in California would do to these attacks by the feds. California’s Legislature needs to step up because while these dispensaries are well regulated and follow local law, they will always come under attack by the feds in the absence of a state-level regulatory system. This is a significant, yet small victory for BPG. I’m hopeful that they keep winning in court in their battle against the feds.