Motions to Be Heard: City of Oakland & Americans for Safe Access - How Will Medical Cannabis Industry Move Forward?
Oakland, Calif. -- The current political winds have changed since Election Day and two states, Washington and Colorado, made history in legalizing adult use of marijuana. Grey areas of national government policy towards both legalization and medical cannabis still remain to be resolved. Last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), called on the need to have a comprehensive judicial hearing on the matters after the first of the year. Last week, in an interview with 20/20 and ABC's Barbara Walters, the President hinted at policy change.
Since it opened six years ago, Harborside Health Center (HHC) has been widely acclaimed as the 'gold standard' of America's medical cannabis dispensaries; it has been extensively covered in national and international media, and has provided visionary leadership to the medical cannabis movement. In a determined and brave campaign to defend safe access for all medical cannabis patients, HHC will appear at a hearing in U.S. District Court on December 20th at 10AM to oppose forfeiture of its leases in Oakland and San Jose. Also appearing will be attorneys for the landlords served with the forfeiture actions filed by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag against HHC's Oakland and San Jose properties, along with the City of Oakland, and Americans for Safe Access, whose legal counsel represents patients who would be harmed by any closing of the dispensary. The hearing will occur at 10AM Thursday in the U.S. District Court, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 15th Floor, Courtroom B, San Francisco, California.
The hearing will address three motions pending before the court: motions by each of the landlords requesting the court enjoin HHC from continuing to dispense medical cannabis while the forfeiture action is pending and a motion by the City of Oakland to stay those motions pending its action to enjoin the federal government from continuing with the forfeiture action. HHC will argue that it be allowed to continue serving its patients while it presents its case to the court and that granting the landlords' motions would deprive it of its right to have its case heard on the merits.
The initial Case Management Conference regarding all three cases is scheduled for January 10, 2013, at 10 AM.
HHC Executive Director Steve DeAngelo says, "Harborside is in full compliance with the laws of the State of California, and the regulations of the City of Oakland---and will continue to use every legal means at our disposal to protect the rights granted to medical cannabis patients by the voters in 1996. We are confident that a Bay Area jury will recognize and support Harborside's contributions to the community. We hope Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James will deny the motion for a preliminary injunction, and allow us to present our case to a jury of our peers."
Lead attorney for Harborside Health Center, Henry Wykowski, says that "Harborside is prepared to address this matter fully in open court and at a trial on the merits. What is at stake here is the future of the medical cannabis industry and the well-being of hundreds of thousands of patients who obtain benefit from the recommended use of cannabis."
The American public overwhelmingly supports cannabis law reform. A CNN/Time poll in November 2002 found that 80% of Americans support patients' legal access to medical cannabis, and pro-reform initiatives this election season received more votes than did President Obama. Harborside Health Center calls for President Obama and Attorney General Holder to respect the will of the voters, and honor their own past statements by immediately freezing all enforcement actions against medical cannabis providers, and reviewing those actions to make sure they are consistent with administration policy to target only those providers who are out of compliance with state law.
Steve DeAngelo, Henry Wykowski and HHC patients will be available for interviews after the hearing on the steps of the courthouse.
About Harborside Health Center:
Harborside Health Center is the nation's largest not-for-profit model medical cannabis dispensary with locations in Oakland and San Jose, California. The collective was co-founded in 2006 by national cannabis leader Steve DeAngelo, and serves approximately 100,000 registered patients. A landmark facility, HHC offers patients free holistic health services, lab-tested medicine, a low-income care package program, substance misuse support and education, while strictly complying with state and local laws regarding medical cannabis. For more details, visit the Oakland medical cannabis dispensary online at www.harborsidehealthcenter.com.