He might direct the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, but Steve DeAngelo isn’t scared of the government’s attempts to shut it down.
“The federal government has thrown everything they had at us and we met them and we pushed back,” DeAngelo said, referring to Harborside Health Center, where he serves as founder and executive director. “It’s a drug war machine that’s bound for extinction.”
Following the federal raid on Oaksterdam University last April, Dale Sky Jones found herself with an incredible task: rebuilding the school from the ground up. Not only had Richard Lee, Oaksterdam’s founder and director, just stepped down—assigning Jones to take over his role—but during the raid, federal agents had gutted the university entirely. As Jones took on the responsibility of providing for the students, staff and volunteers who had already signed on for the spring semester, the rest of Oakland’s burgeoning pot industry was left wondering what lay ahead for their businesses and whether they, too, were vulnerable to raids or legal action from the federal government.
One year ago, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, a move that sent ripples throughout Oakland’s well-established cannabis industry and raised questions about the complex and often conflicting web of state and federal regulations surrounding medical marijuana use and patient rights. In this four-part series, Oakland North will examine what’s changed since last year’s raid, who was affected the most, and what may lie in store for medical marijuana use here in Oakland.
This year, voters must choose whether to give a full four-year term to current City Attorney Barbara Parker or to longtime District 1 Councilmember Jane Brunner, both familiar faces in Oakland politics. When Oakland voters nixed Measure H in 2011, they decided how the city would select a city attorney this year. Until 1998, city officials appointed someone to the office, but under that year’s “strong mayor” initiative, the position became an elected one, which was held by John Russo…
The city of Oakland filed a complaint Wednesday against the federal government in order to stop officials from seizing the nation’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, claiming the government took too long to take legal action against Harborside Health Center and that the federal statute of limitations regarding seizures has expired.
From Occupy Oakland activists and anti-war protestors to medical cannabis advocates and people using polar bear mascots to protest against oil drilling in the Arctic, President Barack Obama’s fundraising stop in Oakland on Monday night drew vocal dissent and equally vocal support from different local groups.
Oakland’s dispensary ordinance, which has been on the books since 2004, is lauded by city officials—a staff report from the City Administrator’s Office published in July, 2011, calls it “a role model for the nation”—and is generally well-respected among local dispensary owners who consider it fair to them and the city. It requires that dispensary operators follow certain rules: sharing annual financial audits and personnel records with the city, making sure there’s proper security and safe access for patients, and making sure clients aren’t a nuisance to the neighborhood.
But there could be major changes brewing for how Oakland’s dispensaries are regulated.
The Oakland Police Department announced Thursday that officers had raided a commercial building in East Oakland and seized approximately $1 million worth of marijuana as well as a stash of weapons and body armor.
Oaksterdam University supporters celebrated 4/20—the calendar date that matches a code word often associated with pot smoking—with a march in Oakland protesting the recent federal raid of Oaksterdam’s facilities and demanding the federal legalization of medical marijuana. At 11 am, supporters gathered at the Federal Building on Clay Street in downtown Oakland. Starting off as a rather small gathering of some 30 medical marijuana activists and patients—many in wheelchairs—the group grew to around 200 people by midday. The protesters waved…