Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Berkeley Files Claim to Stop Feds from Closing Berkeley Patients Group

By David Downs
Wed, Jul 3, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Another Bay Area city is standing up to the federal crackdown on state-legal medical marijuana.

The City of Berkeley has filed a claim in federal court that could prevent the forfeiture of the building of major dispensary Berkeley Patients Group.

BPGs location on San Pablo - not much to seize, Ms. Haag
  • David Downs
  • BPG's location on San Pablo - not much to seize, Ms. Haag

The July 3 legal claim (.pdf) by the city states that closing down Berkeley Patients Group at 2366 San Pablo Avenue would cause tremendous harm to Berkeley taxpayers. The harms take the form of lost sales tax revenue and stymied efforts to control the distribution of medical cannabis in the city.

Berkeley Patients Group is one of three operating dispensaries in the city of 112,000 people. It generates more sales tax revenue than the other two dispensaries combined, according to city officials. Closing down BPG would also lead to more street sales of the drug and less public safety.

"The closure of Berkeley Patients Group will likely lead to an increased number of unregulated, unpermitted dispensaries and an increased number of illicit marijuana sales on Berkeley streets negatively impacting Berkeley neighborhoods and the business community," the city's legal claim stated. "Consequently, Claimant’s ability to regulate business, people, and property within its jurisdiction is also threatened by the potential forfeiture, as is Claimant’s ability to regulate local zoning."

US Attorney Melinda Haag - in conjunction with three other US attorneys in California - launched a medical marijuana crackdown in October 2011. She claimed the efforts were in the name of protecting communities. Berkeley is now the second community in addition to Oakland to actively seek to stop Haag's attempts.

Mayor Tom Bates stated: “It is time for the federal government to wake up and stop these asset forfeiture actions. 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.”

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