Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, has vowed to fight a lawsuit filed last month by a U.S. Attorney General threatening to seize their two California locations. But the forfeiture lawsuit has successfully spooked one of their landlords; the dispensary’s San Jose location (they’re based in Oakland) is now under siege by Concourse Business Center, which owns the building and asked a district court Wednesday to order Harborside to cease growing, possessing and selling marijuana on the property.
While Harborside’s Oakland landlord has stood by them, the San Jose location was given a 30 day warning to shut down. Harborside, which is fighting the DOJ lawsuit rather than agree to shut down, refused. The court will now have to consider granting an injunction against the dispensary barring “the cultivation, possession with intent to distribute, and/or distribution of marijuana in any form.” Harborside has complied with all local and state laws governing dispensary operations, and has worked closely with Oakland officials to create a regulatory system governing the medical marijuana industry.
Harborside serves more than 100,000 patients and pays $3 million in federal, state, and local taxes. In spite of a 2009 Justice Department directive telling federal prosecutors not to go after “individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” U.S. Attorneys in California and Colorado have boosted their assault on medical marijuana shops in the past year, though medical marijuana use is legal in these states. A favorite tactic is to issue a letter to the landlords of these dispensaries threatening to employ a statute meant to allow the government to seize the assets of drug dealers. The letter has been very effective; roughly 400 dispensaries have been shut down in California just by the mere threat of a lawsuit. Two bills were recently introduced in Congress to protect the landlords of these dispensaries.