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Harborside Oakland Site Faces Landlord’s Wrath

SAN FRANCISCO - An Oakland property owner wants a federal judge to stop a medical marijuana dispensary facing forfeiture proceedings from operating on its premises.

Ana Chretien asked U.S. District Judge Maria James on Wednesday to bar Harborside Health Center from growing, possessing and selling marijuana at its Oakland property.

Concourse Business Center, which owns the land where Harborside's San Jose location operates, filed a motion requesting the same relief in August. The court has not yet ruled on Concourse's motion.

Both sites face civil forfeiture proceedings for selling marijuana in violation of the Controlled Substances Act. While medical marijuana is legal in California, it is still illegal under federal law.

Harborside became famous nationwide when it was featured on the Discovery Channel show "Weed Wars." According to the lawsuits, it claims to be the largest retailer of marijuana on the planet, serving more than 100,000 customers.

The recent crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries in California had focused on dispensaries that were allegedly close to schools, parks and playgrounds.

Harborside maintains that it has complied with all local and state laws and that it was not within 1,000 feet of a school, another rationale the Justice Department is using to target dispensaries even though state law is set at 600 feet, according to the Americans for Safe Access.

More than 400 dispensaries have shuttered in California since the U.S. Attorneys announced a crackdown against medical marijuana dispensaries in October 2011, "mostly from the specter of federal criminal prosecution or asset forfeiture," the medical marijuana advocacy group says.

Harborside has said that it "has nothing to be ashamed of" and vowed to fight the potential eviction "with every legal means at our disposal."

Chretien is represented by Geoffrey Spellberg with Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson in Oakland.

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