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New Dispensary, Tidewater Patients Group, Set to Open in Oakland

Oakland, long a battleground in California’s war over pot, may soon get a new medical marijuana dispensary.

City officials recently gave the go-ahead to a dispensary that would be run by the Tidewater Patients Group, an organization tied to a former aide to an Oakland City Council member. The shop would be located at 3007 Telegraph Ave., in the Pill Hill neighborhood.

TMarijuana JH]aridewater was one of four applicants approved for a dispensary permit last year, but the planned location, a building owned in part by the city council member, was rejected when members of a rowing team opposed it. A second location was also rejected. Finally, late last month, the city approved the Telegraph Avenue site.

Of the four shops approved last year, Tidewater would be the third to open its doors, following Blum in the Northgate/Waverly neighborhood and Magnolia Wellness in the industrial district. That would make a total of seven dispensaries in the city. Last year the city council voted to expand from a total of four to a total of eight.

The other dispensaries operating in Oakland are Harborside Health Center, Purple Heart Patient Center, Oakland Organics and Coffee Shop Blue Sky.

Oakland and its dispensaries have long been at the center of vain attempts by federal prosecutors to bring down California’s medical marijuana system. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag, who represents the Northern District of California, is pursuing asset forfeiture cases against Harborside and another dispensary in Berkeley.

The suits seek to seize the property owned by the dispensaries and the landlords who rent to them. The action against Harborside was filed in the summer of 2012.

As early as 2009, the Obama administration had said it wouldn’t treat marijuana crimes as a high priority. Yet U.S. Attorney Haag pursued Harborside with a vengeance, her justification being that the dispensary was too big. A memo released this August declared the Justice Department and its prosecutors would no longer target dispensaries simply based on their size – a declaration Haag has ignored.

Harborside is considered a model business and a good neighbor in Oakland, and when Haag tried to take its property, city officials stepped in, suing Haag in October 2012. Haag filed a motion to dismiss the city’s suit, but the city appealed. Now the case is on hold until the appeal is heard sometime in late 2014. In the meantime, Harborside may keep its doors open.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on marijuanaandthelaw.com and californiamarijuanamarket.com.

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