SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - A federal magistrate in San Francisco Thursday dismissed a lawsuit in which the city of Oakland was seeking to block a U.S. government bid to forfeit the property rented by California’s largest medical marijuana dispensary.
The ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Elena James appears to clear the way for a forfeiture trial against the landlord of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland sometime in the next few months.
The dismissal of Oakland’s lawsuit was requested by the U.S. Justice Department, which is seeking to forfeit the property on the ground that it is the site of illegal marijuana production and sales.
The city’s lawsuit, filed in October, sought to claim that the federal government had exceeded the five-year statute of limitations for a forfeiture case because Harborside has operated in accordance with city and state laws since 2006 without federal interference.
But James wrote that the lawsuit had to be dismissed because federal courts have no jurisdiction over Oakland’s claims. She said the city lawsuit was not covered by a federal administrative law that allows challenges to final agency actions.
Harborside has separately made a statute-of-limitations claim in its own opposition to the forfeiture case, and can still raise that claim in the future forfeiture trial.
Harborside serves more than 100,000 patients and has annual sales of $20 million.
While California law allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana with a doctor’s approval, federal laws criminalizing the drug make no exception for state laws.
The Harborside forfeiture case is part of an effort by federal prosecutors in California to crack down on dispensaries they consider to be large-scale commercial operations.
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