The City of Berkeley has filed a claim aiming to protect the city’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, Berkeley Patients Group, from closure prompted by the federal government. In May, US Attorney Melinda Haag targeted the dispensary’s landlord for asset forfeiture, a bullying tactic that has been used regularly in the feds’ war on state-sanctioned, legal medical pot programs. Now, Berkeley is fighting back.
“It is time for the federal government to wake up and stop these asset forfeiture actions,” Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said in a press release. “Berkeley Patients Group has complied with the rules and caused no problems in the City. The federal government should not use its scarce resources to harass local law-abiding businesses.”
The Berkeley Patients Group has been legally providing marijuana to patients in the city since 1999, complying with local laws. Nonetheless, Haag said in a statement this May that, “The marijuana industry has caused significant public health and safety problems in rural communities, urban centers and schools in the Northern District of California. Because some believe marijuana has medicinal value, however, we continue to take a measured approach and have only pursued asset forfeiture actions with respect to marijuana retail sales operations very near schools, parks or playgrounds, at the request of local law enforcement, or in one case, because of the sheer size of its distribution operations.”
“There are no schools around there,” Bates struck back. “It seems to me Attorney General [Eric Holder] has really messed up [going after BPG]…He needs to say ‘stop this.'”
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