Feds Seizing San Francisco Pot Club

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – Uncle Sam is seizing a San Francisco property that houses a medical marijuana dispensary.
     Uncle Sam filed a federal forfeiture complaint against the property at 2441 Mission St. It accuses Shambhala Healing Center of selling marijuana within 1,000 feet of a public playground, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
     U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s first use of civil forfeiture proceedings to shut down a medical marijuana club in San Francisco comes not quite a year after the government began similar proceedings against Harborside Health Center’s pot clubs in San Jose and Oakland.
     Harborside found an ally in the City of Oakland, which sued the federal government for backing out on promises to let states regulate medical marijuana dispensaries. Harborside is allegedly the largest legal retailer of marijuana on the planet
     Oakland is appealing a decision by U.S. Magistrate Elena James that found the city lacked standing to challenge the forfeiture.
     In the new filing, the United States claims it sent a letter to property owners Ebrahim and Valintin Poura in February 2012, “notifying them that Shambhala was operating as a marijuana dispensary at the defendant real property in violation of federal law. The letter further advised them that continued operation of a marijuana store at the defendant real property could result in criminal and civil penalties, including forfeiture of the defendant real property.”
     Though the Pouras allegedly entered into an agreement with Shambhala owners Khader al Shawa and Kristine Keifer to shut down the dispensary in May 2012, the San Francisco Department of Health found during a November 2012 inspection that the store was still operating as a marijuana dispensary. The Pouras were made aware by Nov. 29, 2012 that Shambhala was operating as a dispensary, but it remains open, according to the lawsuit.
     The U.S. attorney does not accuse the property of selling marijuana to customers who are not medical marijuana patients or allowing nonpatients to obtain marijuana.
     It accuses the dispensary of being “within 1,000 feet of both Jose Coronado Playground and Alioto Mini Park.”
     The San Francisco Examiner reported that Haag targeted the dispensary because of its proximity to the park and playground, though city records show the playground is closed and is not being operated or occupied by the city’s Recreation and Park Department.
     San Francisco zoning laws prohibit marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, recreation centers or other buildings that house youth services, but do not specifically mention parks, according to the Examiner.
     Though voters in Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use and it is legal in California and other states, with a doctor’s prescription, it is illegal under federal law and is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug, which means it has no accepted medical use.
     Doctors, however, prescribe it for some types of chronic pain, for glaucoma, and to treat nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy.

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