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Harborside Quashes Eviction Attempt from Landlord

Sam Sabzehzar 2012-12-03 0 comments

By David Downs  |  Published in East Bay Express

According to a release from Harborside Health Center this morning, the biggest pot club on the planet got a judge to quash its potential eviction by landlord Anna Chretien.

Harborside has operated with a permit in Oakland for several years and told its landlord, Chretien, what it was doing. Chretien sued to evict the club after U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag initiated forfeiture actions against Chretien’s building for violating federal drug law.

“The federal campaign to close Harborside Health Center and other state legal medical cannabis dispensaries was dealt a significant setback in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday, November 30th when Judge Evilio Grillo quashed an eviction proceeding initiated by the landlord of Harborside’s landmark Oakland location. The Judge dismissed the action, which was undertaken in response to pressure placed on the landlord by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, on the grounds that California courts cannot evict state legal medical cannabis dispensaries simply because they are breaking federal cannabis laws.”

California landlords cannot force a California court to ‘indirectly’ enforce federal drug laws, Judge Grillo decided, writing:

“This court sees no reason why a private actor should be able to do what a city cannot—i.e., rely on the idea that state law incorporates federal criminal law to compel a state court to enforce that federal law indirectly when it cannot do so directly.”

“Harborside was not the first CA dispensary targeted for property seizure by US Attorneys, but it may well be the last,” Harborside operator Stephen DeAngelo said in a written statement.

“Judge Grillo’s thoughtful opinion will provide strong protection for all medical cannabis leaseholders in California, and may put a spike in the US Attorneys month long campaign of using civil forfeiture to close state legal medical cannabis dispensaries. The decision makes it clear that organizations that comply with state law deserve the protection of that law, and makes it far more difficult for US Attorneys to force the eviction of medical cannabis dispensaries.”

Oakland counter-sued the feds’ forfeiture attempt and the case is ongoing, with the next court date set for Dec. 20.