OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 23, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- On the heels of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's endorsement of medical cannabis, and Eric Holder's speech advocating reform of the War on Drugs, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency has informed security and armored car services that they can no longer render services to state-legal cannabis providers, including the country's largest model cannabis dispensary, Harborside Health Center in Oakland and San Jose, California. This desperate and reckless attempt to stem the tide of change poses grave risks to medical cannabis patients and the general public alike. According to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), dispensaries in Colorado have also been targeted. However, they have decided not to release their individual identities, due to security concerns. Other California dispensaries have also been affected.
Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, said, "The federal government appears willing to do anything that will turn this inherently safe plant into something dangerous, no matter the impact on public health or safety. In 2011 they closed our bank accounts, which forced us to handle and store cash on-site. Now they have denied us any secure way to transport that cash to those whom we owe money—like the City of Oakland, and the California Board of Equalization.
"The reduction in security caused by this federal action endangers not only our patients and staff, it endangers the entire public—including state and city employees. It is long past time for the President and Congress to rein in out-of-control federal drug warriors, and respect the voters of California and other states that have already made the kind of reforms recently advocated by Attorney General Holder. The Obama administration should take action to make distribution of cannabis safer, not more dangerous."
Aaron Smith, NCIA's executive director, echoed DeAngelo's concerns over increased security risks. "The true nature of the Obama administration's approach to voter-approved medical marijuana is now clear. They want more cash underground. They want our streets to be more dangerous. They want the lives of state-licensed providers endangered. This is a major threat to public safety intentionally engineered by the administration," Smith said in a statement. "This reckless and shameful policy not only puts the lives of dispensary operators and patients at risk, it threatens the safety of thousands of employees, contractors, and state officials who receive payments from our industry every day."
Background on Obama Administration crackdown on cannabis:
2009 DOJ issues Ogden memo, instructs US Attorneys to respect state cannabis laws. More states and cities legalize and regulate medical cannabis, leading to an increase in the number of licensed cultivators and dispensaries.
2010 Despite Ogden, IRS initiates nationwide campaign of aggressive audits and massive back tax bills. At the same time, the Department of Treasury orders banks and credit card processors to cease providing services to cannabis-related organizations.
2011 Ogden memo retracted, replaced with Cole memo, instructing US Attorneys to prosecute cannabis providers, regardless of their status under state law. US Attorneys threaten to prosecute state employees if they implement local regulation and licensing of medical cannabis. Dozens of raids initiated nationwide, hundreds of letters sent to landlords threatening property seizure. Hundreds of state legal dispensaries closed.
2012 IRS audits and DEA raids continue. BATF orders gun dealers not to serve medical cannabis patients. US Attorneys initiate formal legal proceedings to seize properties leased to cannabis-related organizations, including Harborside Health Center. Legalization of cannabis for adult use passed in Colorado and Washington, Obama Administration promises to issue position.
2013 Crackdown continues on all fronts. Eric Holder announces reform of federal drug laws, and Sanjay Gupta endorses medical cannabis. Still no statement of position on Colorado and Washington legislation. DEA orders security and armored car services to end services to cannabis industry.
About Harborside Health Center:
Founded by national cannabis leader Steve DeAngelo in 2006, Harborside Health Center is the nation's largest, not-for-profit, model medical cannabis dispensary. The San Jose and Oakland medicinal cannabis collective offers its 128,000 registered patients free holistic healing services, lab-tested medicine and education. Harborside was featured on the Discovery Channel's miniseries, "Weed Wars," in December of 2011 and on CNN's 'Inside Man' with Morgan Spurlock in June 2013. DeAngelo also founded the nation's first cannabis-testing facility, Steep Hill Labs, and the country's first cannabis investment firm, The Arc View Group.
"Out of the shadows and into the light" epitomizes DeAngelo's mission to enlighten the public on the many medicinal and therapeutic benefits of the plant and actively works to empower the country to change its image of medical marijuana. For more info, visit www.harborsidehealthcenter.com and www.stevedeangelo.com.
Source:Harborside Health Center