A federal judge ruled yesterday that the landlords of Harborside Health Center cannot stop the world's largest medical marijuana dispensary from selling pot.
That's not to say the pot club can't still be closed down by the feds, so stock up on your marijuana while you can.
The Oakland-based dispensary, which also has a location in San Jose, has been caught in the drug war between federal and state authorities, as the feds attempt to close down pot clubs it deems to be operating illegally. However, the dispensaries are in compliance with state and local laws.
In July, the feds announced that they would be shuttering Harborside, creating a potential "health crisis" for the dispensary's 110,000 registered patients. Since then, Oakland city officials have filed a lawsuit, attempting to keep the city's second-largest retail tax payer open (it generates $1.4 million for Oakland annually).
Meanwhile, Harborside's landlords have been trying to evict the pot club, hoping to get the feds off their backs. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James ruled that the government -- not the landlords -- have to do the evicting of Harborside for its alleged violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
According to the ruling, the landlords "are attempting to use a procedural rule in a civil forfeiture proceeding to bring what amounts to an enforcement action ... against Harborside," the 17-page ruling said. "This is a measure which the Government -- the entity charged with enforcing the statute -- has elected not to pursue."
"This is a significant victory for the City of Oakland and its 400,000 citizens, for thousands of cannabis patients, and for the Harborside dispensary," Cedric Chao, a lawyer representing the city pro bono, told media outlets. "With today's ruling, we can develop Oakland's case in a logical way and tee up the federal government's actions for examination by the federal judiciary," he said.
Medical marijuana dispensaries are legal in California and 17 other states; however, U.S. prosecutors argue that federal law takes precedence over state law, and thus the crackdown on pot clubs continues.
Reuters reports that the judge will continue to hear Oakland's lawsuit, which is asking for a judge to stop the eviction.