The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped its ongoing case against Harborside Health Center.
This comes after back and forth legal battles between Harborside and the federal government since 2012.
Harborside is one of the largest and well-known marijuana dispensaries in the United States. Unfortunately, this level of recognition can be problematic in the marijuana industry.
In 2012, hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries were targeted for closure by federal authorities. Former U.S. Attorney, Melinda Haag, filed a suit to seize the property where Harborside operates. Although there did not seem to be direct evidence of illegal activity on a state level, Haag said “The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.”
Later in 2012, the City of Oakland sued to prevent the property seizure on the basis that it did not want ill patients to try and acquire marijuana through the black market. Oakland’s lawsuit was dismissed in February of 2013. After the city appealed, a federal judge granted Harborside permission to stay open while the case was still being litigated. In August of last year, Oakland lost again as the Ninth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the property seizure could move forward.
In December of 2014, the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was passed in Congress. The bill prevents the DOJ from interfering with businesses and organizations that are operating in accordance with state law. This week Congress passed a bill that was almost identical but included protections for Pennsylvania, where medical marijuana was recently passed.
Harborside co-founder, Steve Deangelo, felt the bill’s passage may have led directly to the case being dropped. “I hope that what we’re seeing is the beginning of the dismantling of federal prohibition,” he told Huffington Post.
MG has reached out to Harborside and is awaiting comment.