Archive for the ‘oakland’ category

Police Department Puts Drugs Ahead of Solving Homicides

November 5th, 2013

One of the many predicted benefits of regulating marijuana is to allow police to focus on solving violent crimes, and an investigation into the Oakland Police Department shows just how imperative that focus is.OPD In 2012, OPD solved only 28% of homicides, a figure that is largely due to an incredible backup of untested evidence.  The OPD’s crime lab has yet to test evidence pertaining to 659 homicide cases, some of which are 10 years old. Furthermore, the crime lab has no idea which of the cases with outstanding evidence have even been adjudicated or closed, meaning cases are being settled before the evidence has even been tested.

What makes all of this even more outrageous is that the OPD crime lab has processed evidence for 95% of all suspected drug cases within 24 hours of receiving it and has no backlog of evidence for drug cases. They have prioritized drugs over murder.

There is no excuse for allowing homicide evidence to go untested while pouring precious resources into testing evidence for every single drug case. We need to focus the resources of our criminal justice system on violent crimes.

Feds Target Harborside Health Center — California’s Largest, Most Prominent Medical Cannabis Dispensary

July 12th, 2012

Many of California’s most prominent and well-respected medical cannabis dispensaries and related facilities — including Oaksterdam University, Berkeley Patients Group, and Harborside Health Center (HHC) — flourished under the George W. Bush administration. But they’ll be lucky to survive President Barack Obama’s first term.

On Tuesday, federal prosecutors targeted Harborside Health Center in Oakland, as well as its sister facility in San Jose, for closure and civil asset forfeiture. In court papers filed by the US Attorney for the northern district of California, Melinda Haag, the federal government alleges that Harborside is “operating in violation of federal law” by providing cannabis to state-qualified patients.

The actions taken by the US Department of Justice stand in sharp contrast statements made by President Obama prior to his election, when he pledged to no longer use federal “Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws” regulating the physician authorized use and distribution of medical cannabis — a promise this administration has repeatedly broken. The actions also contradict more recent statements made by US Attorney Eric Holder to Congress in June when he asserted that Justice officials are solely targeting individuals who are “taking advantage of those state laws and going beyond what those states have authorized.”

Yet despite Eric Holder and the President’s claims to the contrary, the DOJ’s actions against Harborside are consistent with a growing trend by the Obama administration to target and close many of the state’s most prominent, longstanding, and well-respected medical cannabis operations — including the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (1996-2011), Berkeley Patients Group (2000-2012), and El Camino Wellness (2008-2012).

In April, approximately 100 federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, a brick-and-mortar cannabis trade school in downtown Oakland, and several other properties rented by the facility’s founder Richard Lee. (To date, no criminal charges have been filed against Lee and O.U. has since re-opened.) Internal e-mails from the Oakland Police Department, made public earlier this week, reveal that local law enforcement officials had virtually no advance notice of the federal government’s actions against Oaksterdam, which they criticized as “resource-draining; … [it] exposed our staff to more conflict (harm) as well as complaints than necessary.”

Commenting on this week’s action, US Attorney Melinda Haag pronounced:

“This office has used its limited resources to address those marijuana dispensaries that operate close to schools, parks and playgrounds. As I have said in the past, this is a non-exclusive list of factors relevant to whether we should commence civil forfeiture actions against marijuana properties, and circumstances may require us to address other situations.

I now find the need to consider actions regarding marijuana superstores such as Harborside. The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state’s medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need.

The filing of the civil forfeiture complaints against the two Harborside properties is part of our measured effort to address the proliferation of illegal marijuana businesses in the Northern District of California.”

However, in contrast to Haag’s public statement, the federal complaint filed Sunday cites no alleged violations of state law, instead claiming that HHC’s actions violate the federal US Controlled Substances Act.

Speaking at a press conference today (Watch a recording of it here.)– Steve DeAngelo, Executive Director of Harborside Health Center — rebuffed Haag’s claims, stating that HHC is neither close to a school, nor out of compliance with state law. “Harborside has nothing to hide or be ashamed of,” DeAngelo said in a prepared statement. “We will contest the DOJ action openly and in public, and through all legal means at our disposal. We look forward to our day in court, and are confident that justice is on our side.”

Harborside Health Center is licensed by the city of Oakland. It employs over 100 people and is Oakland’s second largest retail tax payer. Last year, HHC paid combined taxes in excess of $3 million, over a million dollars of which went directly to the City of Oakland.

According to a post on the facility’s website, Harborside Health Center intends to remain open despite federal threats. It states: “Harborside is not in imminent danger of closing. We intend to keep the commitment we made six years ago to provide our patients with safe access to the medicine their doctors have recommended, for as long as we possibly can.”

The US Attorney’s actions come the same week that former US House Speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi called on Congress to reform federal marijuana laws to acknowledge the plant’s therapeutic utility. Representative Pelosi had previously criticized the Obama administration’s actions this past May, stating, “I have strong concerns about the recent actions by the federal government that threaten the safe access of medicinal marijuana to alleviate the suffering of patients in California, and undermine a policy that has been in place under which the federal government did not pursue individuals whose actions complied with state laws providing for medicinal marijuana.”

Harborside Health Center estimates that it serves over 100,000 members. The facility had previously been engaged in litigation with the Internal Revenue Service, which determined that the dispensary could not deduct standard business expenses such as payroll and rent, because it is involved in what the agency terms “the trafficking of controlled substances.”

Marijuana Entrepreneur Charged With Defrauding Oakland

May 18th, 2012
Armando Trull/WAMUDhar Mann, 27, has been charged with defrauding the city of OaklandDhar Mann, a controversial young businessman who sought fame and fortune as an entrepreneur in the medical marijuan

Oaksterdam Supporters To Protest Federal Marijuana Raids 4/20

April 19th, 2012
California NORML"Obama Keep Your Promise"Cannabis advocates will mark their annual 4/20 holiday with a protest of the federal raids on medical marijuana in Oaksterdam.Demonstrators will gather at the

Stand With Richard Lee: Tell Obama to End the Medical Marijuana Raids

April 3rd, 2012

Richard Lee Speaking at a NORML Conference
Earlier this week, agents with the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service raided several properties owned by longtime marijuana law reform advocate Richard Lee. Richard has devoted over a million dollars of his own money and countless hours of his life to championing Proposition 19 and marijuana legalization in California, to say nothing of all the time and passion he has poured into helping revitalize his community of Downtown Oakland, can you give him just a minute of your time and sign his petition to President Obama?


Click here to sign

From Richard Lee:

On Monday, April 2, my school — Oaksterdam University in Oakland — was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.

President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again — and the consequences have been devastating.

This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I’ve been an activist far too long to become intimidated — and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.

With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?

Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!


Click here to sign!

Federal agents with DEA, IRS, raid marijuana trade school Oaksterdam University

April 2nd, 2012

WANTED: For spending $1.5 million to try to legalize marijuana and for providing truthful education about it.

OAKLAND – Federal agents swooped in Monday morning to search Oakland’s Oaksterdam University in Oakland, the state’s first cannabis industry training school.

Agents with the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation division are searching the university at the corner of 16th Street and Broadway, in the heart of the city’s widely recognized downtown cannabis-oriented district, authorities said.

The university has been cordoned off by yellow caution tape.

Arlette Lee, an IRS spokeswoman, said she could not say why the agents were there other than to confirm that they were serving a federal search warrant.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/02/BABJ1NTK9T.DTL#ixzz1qtvKIJo3

[UPDATE!] You can view video from yesterday’s federal raid, coverage of today’s march and protest in San Francisco, and also read Richard Lee’s first public statement since the DEA and IRS took action against him here.]

Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, was the man who poured $1.5 million of his own money into the Prop 19 effort in 2010 to legalize marijuana in California.  That effort garnered the greatest-ever support for statewide marijuana legalization at 46.5%.

Wall Street bankers looted and wrecked the economy? Eh, whaddaya gonna do? People are learning the truth about marijuana and its prohibition in there? Better send in federal agents right away! (Photo: Oaksterdam)

Oaksterdam was founded in November of 2007 to provide training for the caregivers and collectives providing cannabis medicine to California’s medical marijuana patients.  But rather than just establish a “grow school”, Richard Lee also seeded the curriculum with classes covering the entire cannabis industry, including how to address the political and legal impediments that prohibition of cannabis for healthy people imposes on getting medicine to sick people.

The recent “crackdown” by the four US Attorneys in California, which has included threatening letters to landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries as well as outright raids of longstanding, community-approved outlets like Berkeley Patients Group, has been devastating to Oaksterdam’s enrollment.

There is now no doubt in my mind that this is a full-court press by the Obama Administration to squelch the voices of legalization, retard the propagation of truth about marijuana, and stall our growing political momentum long enough for the campaign donors in Big Pharma to get cannabinoid pharmaceuticals through the FDA approval process.

Colorado and Washington – 2012 is THE year.  Failure to pass legalization this year gives the government four more years before they have to worry about serious attempts at legalization.  By then, a few more states will have passed medical marijuana laws without home grow.  By 2016, Sativex and other cannabinoid pharmaceuticals are brought to market.  Those states without home grow will then begin switching their state-run dispensary patients to Sativex.  States with home grow will be under great pressure to do the same.

[NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano adds: I have tremendous personal respect for Richard Lee, having advocated along side with him in support of Prop. 19 -- the statewide initiative he boldly and generously spearheaded in 2010 -- and having lectured at Oaksterdam University, the groundbreaking educational facility he founded. On more than one occasion I ended my lectures at O.U. by highlighting the difference between changing public opinion and changing culture. Richard's activism -- opening the nation's first brick-and-mortar cannabis 'college,' bankrolling Proposition 19 which nearly succeeded in legalizing the adult use of marijuana in California, and revitalizing downtown Oakland -- fell into the latter category. He was changing the culture. And that is why the federal government and the Obama/Holder administration is trying to silence him today.]

 

IRS Claims Medical Marijuana Dispensary is Drug Trafficking Organization, Takes Taxes Anyway

October 6th, 2011

As part of the federal government’s escalating efforts to shut down the medical marijuana industry, the IRS is claiming that Harborside Health Center, an Oakland dispensary that is thought by many to represent the best practices in the industry, owes them roughly $2.5 million in back taxes. The reason for this is that during the audit, the IRS would not let Harborside deduct many of its business expenses.

Most of these expenses were for things that all other legitimate businesses are allowed to deduct, such as rent and payroll. They were, however, allowed to deduct the actual marijuana being given to patients. The reason for all this is Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, which basically allows the IRS to fully tax any group it considers a drug trafficking organization. This is mostly used to snare actual drug traffickers for tax evasion, much like the way Al Capone was finally arrested. Criminal kingpins are not known for filing taxes and reporting their illicit income.

The IRS claims that Harborside, and all other dispensaries, are criminal organizations, so they can’t make any of the deductions other businesses make. But they will still take the money. Many are worried that this will destroy the industry by making it impossible for most dispensaries to afford to stay in business.

MPP is currently pushing a pair of bills through Congress that would remove this threat to patients and providers, as well as allow banks to do business with dispensaries without fear of federal prosecution.

Please urge your representative to sponsor the Small Business Tax Equity Act of 2011 and the Small Business Banking Improvement Act of 2011.

While we’re waiting for Congress to act on these bills (and it may take a while), feel free to contact the IRS and tell them that tax-paying medical marijuana businesses are legitimate and should be treated as such. They are not drug dealers.

Here’s the number: 1-800-829-4933

 

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Oakland Hosting Nation’s 1st Marijuana Street Fair This Weekend

September 2nd, 2011
​Oakland, California -- which has been one of the leading cities in the cannabis movement, medicinal and otherwise, for more than 15 years -- will this weekend host a cannabis street fair touted as the first in the nation.The fair will feature speakers, music, booths and vendors, along with a "215 area," also know as the "Patient Consumption Area and VIP Lounge," which is a designated spot -- directly in front of City Hall -- where patients with medical marijuana cards will be allowed to ingest, smoke or vaporize their medicine, reports Matthai Kuruvila of the San Francisco Chronicle."Patients need to take their medicine when they need to," said Berkeley resident Kim Cue, chief executive of the International Cannabis & Hemp Expo (INT CHE), which kicks off at "high" noon on Saturday. "Being a patient myself, that's something that's mandatory." Continue reading "Oakland Hosting Nation's 1st Marijuana Street Fair This Weekend" >