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Feds Crack Down on Dispensaries as Medical Marijuana Study Asks Why

by Chris Hinyub, published

On the heels of a new study touting the legitimate medicinal uses of marijuana and in yet another violation of its oath not to interfere with state laws, the Obama administration is threatening to shut down the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary.

Earlier this week, federal Complaints for Forfeiture were filed by the U.S. attorney for Northern California against the owners of properties in Oakland and San Jose where Harborside Health Center operates. The tactic puts pressure on the property owners instead of the tenants, highlighting increasingly aggressive maneuvers being employed by the Justice Department against dispensaries in states that permit medical marijuana use.

Local officials and medical marijuana advocates have called the move to seize Harborside Health's business highly suspect, considering the facility has often been looked to as a model for compliance with state medical cannabis laws as well as garnering the support of local officials who appreciate the healthy sales/state income tax hauls.

Nancy Nadel, Oakland's Vice Mayor and member of the City Council said in a statement:

"The city of Oakland has developed a system to assure such distribution occurs according to state law in a fair and orderly process. It is most unjust to our citizen patients and distributors who have followed local guidelines to be harassed and treated as criminals by federal officials."

In response to federal actions against Harborside, State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee told the LA Times, "If we continue to drive everything underground, we're going to create an unsafe environment for patients who need this product … and lose revenue."

Understandably, the issue has states' rights and medical marijuana advocates in an uproar. To add insult to their injury, a new study published in the latest Open Neurology Journal trumpeted a bevy of medical uses for marijuana just days prior to the filing of the federal complaint against Harborside. The results of the state-organized study by the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR) at UC San Diego confirmed cannabis health benefits that have been formally denied by the federal government. Well, almost formally. As IVN has reported in 2010, the feds actually hold a patent on therapeutic cannabinoids -- the active ingredients in a marijuana plant.

Its no wonder that a growing movement of academics and health officials are calling on the federal executive to reassess its current classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance, a ranking that makes marijuana supposedly more dangerous than cocaine and denotes that it has "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” Director at CMCR Igor Grant concludes in the study that marijuana is in practice more fit to be classified as a Schedule III drug and that “the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value” is an “obstacle to medical progress.”

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