The City of Oakland cannot participate, as it has tried to for some years, in a suit to keep the federal government from closing a gargantuan local medical marijuana dispensary. The Chronicle reports that the Supreme Court passed on the city's appeal yesterday of a federal appeals court ruling from last summer, which was recorded at the time in the Mercury News. This of course means that the lower court ruling stands.
Harborside Health Center, the nation's largest licensed medical marijuana dispensary with 108,000 patients, has been doing business since 2006 but was sued in 2012 by then US Attorney Melinda Haag, who sought to confiscate its property. Oakland then sued the federal government on behalf of the dispensary, a move made in part to protect major tax revenue, under the argument that the government had missed its statute of limitations window for civil forfeiture. City officials have also argued that closing Harborside could result in a boom in illegal street marijuana sales, and the dispensary has remained open during court proceedings.
Despite the Supreme Court's dismissal of Oakland's case, Harborside will continue to fight forfeiture in federal court by invoking the Obama administration's written policy of deferring to state law on marijuana legalization. Previously, US district Judge Charles Breyer ruled in San Francisco that, per the language of a budget amendment passed by Congress, the Justice Department can't spend federal funds to bring cases against individual medical marijuana suppliers as long as they comply with state laws. If Breyer's decision is upheld, Harborside will stay above water.
The legal wrangling over Harborside all came as part of a crackdown on California's medical marijuana industry led by Haag and other US attorneys in the state in 2011 and 2012. Things have since quieted down, but the crackdown led to a raid at Oakland's Oaksterdam University, which has stayed in business nonetheless with the support of the city.