Major Victory as Feds Drop Forfeiture Suit Against Harborside Health Center

Federal prosecutors are finally dropping their attempt to seize property from the trailblazing Harborside Health Center in Oakland, California, the dispensary and a city official announced Tuesday.

The saga began in 2012, when former U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag served Harborside with a lawsuit and civil forfeiture notices. Now, the epic dispute with the Department of Justice has come to an end. 

“As of today, Harborside Health Center is in the clear and will no longer have to worry about a looming raid,” a press release from Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan said.

Haag's attempt to shut down the massive dispensary coincided with an era of crackdowns on hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in California, and the decision to kill the case is a victory for medical marijuana operators in the state and legalization advocates everywhere. 

"We believe this dismissal signals the beginning of the end of federal prohibition; and thank our patients, staff, and supporters everywhere for help achieving this historic victory." Harborside CEO and founder Steve DeAngelo said in a press release. 

The news follows a disappointing ruling last year, when a judge decided that a lawsuit filed by the city of Oakland on behalf of Harborside lacked legal standing, but granted the dispensary rights to operate as they awaited an appeal. The city had argued that the suit clashes with the Obama administration’s policy on limited intervention in medical marijuana programs—and that it would cost the city millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Harborside and Kaplan celebrated the feds' decision to drop their suit with Tuesday’s announcement.

“Harborside Health Center has been a strong positive presence in Oakland, both for the patients they serve, the workers they employ, and for the vital public services that are supported by their tax revenues,” Kaplan said. “ I am glad that Oakland’s work on the federal case helped keep Harborside open during this dispute, and heartened to know that the threat against them is now removed."

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