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City of Oakland Files Suit Against Federal Government Over Harborside Health Center
The city of Oakland, CA filed a complaint in United States District Court Wednesday in an attempt to stop the feds from shutting down Harborside Health Center - the state's largest medical marijuana dispensary.
The dispensary is legal by Oakland and state standards, but the feds are nonetheless trying to seize the building that houses it. The city seeks to stop the attacks from the feds against the second-largest retailer in the city.
"The federal government has acted beyond its authority by initiating the forfeiture action outside of the statute of limitations," said Cedric Chao, the attorney representing Oakland in this case. "Moreover, the government has indicated for many years by its words and actions that so long as dispensaries and medical patients acted consistently with state law, the dispensaries would be allowed to operate. Oakland has reasonably relied on these assurances, and the government should be prohibited from disrupting Oakland's medical cannabis program."
"This lawsuit is about protecting the rights of legitimate medical patients," City Attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement released today. "I am deeply dismayed that the federal government would seek to deny these rights and deprive thousands of seriously ill Californians of access to safe, affordable and effective medicine."
Many are dismayed at the inexplicable attacks from the federal government against the medical supply of tens of thousands of patients in states like California, Colorado, Montana and Washington. And the fact that the attacks are coming from a “progressive” Democrat administration makes the whole thing even more bizarre.
But politics is ruled by money, and there is a lot of money in marijuana prohibition and there are many powerful people who want to see prohibition continue. And so it does.
Historic Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Seeks to Relax Federal Policy
Later this month, Michael Krawitz, who suffered a car accident while serving in the U.S. air force which left him permanently disabled and in chronic pain, and other advocates for medical marijuana will go before the U.S. court of appeal in Washington D.C. as part of a historic lawsuit that they hope will challenge the federal government's classification of marijuana.
Michael is a legal medical marijuana patient, and he has found that it helps him greatly with his pain in conjunction with other treatments. But when the department of veteran affairs found out about his cannabis prescription, they asked him to undergo a drug test, which he refused. They have now denied him further treatments.
Advocates behind the lawsuit seek to get marijuana reclassified under The Federal Controlled Substances Act, allowing federal agencies to recognize the medical value of cannabis.
"Medical marijuana patients are finally getting their day in court," said Joe Elford, chief counsel with Americans for Safe Access. "This is a rare opportunity for patients to confront politically motivated decision-making with scientific evidence of marijuana's medical efficacy."
Oral arguments begin on October 16th.
"At the heart of this issue of the scheduling of marijuana and the federal government's refusal to look at the research that's out there every day is a bigger gap growing between patients and doctors and the federal government,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of ASA.
"The definition of cannabis as schedule I has caused my fellow patients to be imprisoned, denied work, housing, right to own a firearm, a place on a transplant list, and of greatest concern to me, is the latest casualty of the drug war, my VA doctor,” Krawitz said.
A rescheduling of cannabis would also go a long way toward taking the teeth out of the federal medical marijuana crackdown currently underway.
Medical Marijuana Banned From All Section 8 Housing in Maine
The Maine State Housing Authority board voted 4-3 earlier this week to ban medical marijuana from Section 8 housing in the state. This means medical marijuana patients in the Section 8 program are going to have to choose one or the other.
"We took a very firm stand," said Bruce Poliquin, who serves as the Maine State Treasurer and a member of the Maine Housing Authority's board of directors. "There will be no growing of marijuana in these apartments. No cultivating of the substance. And we restricted the smoking of the substance in those apartments."
A firm stand? Against sick people who would rather use marijuana than some deadly and addictive prescription drug? That’s some stand.
"We want to make sure that we respect everybody who needs medical attention and are legally using medicinal marijuana for treatment of their ailments," Poliquin said. "At the same time we have roughly 3200 of these Section 8 apartments around the state of Maine. There are probably 5000 individuals that live in those 32 apartments, including children. We have to make sure those apartment buildings and those apartments are safe for everybody who lives in the buildings."
But State Representative Deb Sanderson, a Chelsea Republican, disagrees with Poliquin. Sanderson says there are simply no facts to back up the notion that medical marijuana breeds unsavory activity. "Though I understand Treasurer Poliquin's concern, there is no evidence that allowing patients to access medical marijuana as directed by their physician has increased crime in any way in Maine, nor has it caused a safety concern," Sanderson said. However, Sanderson argues, there is mounting evidence that the alternative medication that these patients will be forced to use does cause crime rates to not only rise, but skyrocket. "If these patients are forced to abandon using a natural form of medication and transition to pharmaceuticals, ie narcotic pain relievers, we do have evidence of a rising problem with long term pain management and addiction to opioids. Almost weekly, another break-in or pharmacy robbery is reported."
The Success of The War on Drugs
We talk a lot about the failure of the War on Drugs, but it’s easy to forget that a policy doesn’t stay a policy for long unless someone is profiting from it. The drug war is a failure in terms of its stated goals, but it is very much a success for a certain segment of society.
Private prison companies, law enforcement officials, politicians and pharmaceutical companies all profit from prohibition, and they do so legally. Then you have all the dealers and gang members making money on the other end, and you have the non-corrupt and non-criminal elements of society squeezed in the middle.
Prohibition is just a policy, it is not the enemy of free people. Those who profit from prohibition are the enemy, and they must be defeated politically before this dangerous and soul-crushing policy can be eliminated.
It won’t be easy, because few people ever give up a constant flow of money without a fight. And they will use that money to protect their flow of profits. It’s an uphill battle, to say the least, but nothing less than freedom itself awaits us at the top of the hill.
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