Federal government sets its sights on 12 more SF dispensaries

Inside the office of delivery-only dispensary Green Cross, one of the 12 cannabis businesses that could be targeted by the DEA.

Bad news for medical marijuana patients in the Bay Area: as reported by the SF Examiner, the DEA has requested records from the city's Department of Public Health for 12 of San Francisco's existing 21 cannabis dispensaries. This is the same move the DEA made before sending the threatening letters to five other cannabis collectives last fall. Those five dispensaries are now closed.

In fall of 2010, US Attorney Melinda Haag targeted five SF dispensaries in school zones with letters declaring them in violation of federal law. In the face of potential jail time for dispensary staff and even the landlords of the buildings that housed the dispensaries, they shut their doors. Now, more than 50 percent of the city's dispensaries could have to follow suit. 

The really upsetting part about all of this? The sheer randomness of it all. In our recent Cannabis Issue, the Guardian interviewed Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, who said that in his meeting with Haag over the matter, the US Attorney said the orders to persue the dispensaries came from above. "She said she was only doing what the boss was telling her to do," Ammiano told the Guardian. "We had a hard time with that." The Obama Administration has been frustratingly opaque about the motives behind, and future plans for, persecuting an industry that Attorney General Eric Holder once called a "low priority" for federal law enforcement. 

The Guardian has sent an email to Mayor Ed Lee for his comments on the request for records, and will update this post when we hear back. Even then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, as the Examiner pointed out, sent a letter in 2008 to Congress to encourage it to act against the DEA's attempts to intervene in California's medical marijuana industry.

Assemblymember Ammiano and Senator Mark Leno are leading the efforts to establish a statewide regulatory board cannabis that would, among other things, demonstrate to the feds that the industry is being well-regulated in California. Americans for Safe Access and UFCW (the union representing cannabis workers in California) have also introduced a ballot initiative called the Medical Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act that would establish a regulating board made of patients, government representatives, medical professionals, and cannabis industry folks. A poll conducted by Probolsky Research recently put voter support for that measure at 59.2 percent.  

But who knows if California voters will get a chance to regulate marijuana as they see fit. If these requests for records proceed as the last round of them did, SF could be down to nine dispensaries in a city with not only a large base of cannabis patients, but also a thriving cannabis culture. 

The dispensaries whose records were requested by the DEA were: 

Bay Area Safe Alternatives Collective


Good Fellows Smoke Shop

Grass Roots

The Green Cross

Hope Net

Re-Leaf Herbal Center

SF Medical Cannabis Club

Shambala Healing Center

Valencia Street Caregivers

Vapor Room

Waterfall Wellness


I see.

The Bay Guardian coherency marches on.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

on gay marriage. But when it is quashed on pot clinics, suddenly they do a 180.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

Would you listen to yourself for a minute? Do you grasp how utterly incoherent your point is? Where are you from and did you already vote for Rick Santorum?

But seriously, what in god's name are you talking about? Do you honestly think that people who want to be married (married for goddsake, you know love and commitment and all that) should be forbidden from doing so, just because some other people aren't comfortable with it? And do you honestly think I should be prohibited from breathing the vapor of a common, benign plant because other people are uncomfortable with it. Really?

You seem to hate the Guardian. Does this mean you identify as "conservative" and that the guvmint should just get off your back already? And if so, are you truly incapable of seeing how blatantly contradictory your views are? And finally why are you reading the Guardian if you hate it do much, let alone bothering to comment? Is your life that empty? Seriously, is your life that empty? Go smoke a joint and listen to some music. I swear to god, it just might open your eyes to joy and beauty and it just might save you from your miserable existence. Peace.

Posted by Andy on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

before pontificating.

Posted by guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 4:48 am

about whether or not your life is truly so empty, but the fact that you're commenting anonymously on a website you despise at 4:48 in the morning says all we need to know.

Seriously, my friend, your irrational fear / hatred / jealousy of others who are getting happily married, happily smoking harmless plants, and who knows what else -- is making you dead inside. And frankly, it's a little creepy. I couldn't be more sincere when I say, step away from the keyboard and find something to live for. You're welcome and good luck!

P.S. Oh, and on the practical tip, I'll recommend a joint again, this time for your stress and insomnia. The Indicas are especially good for that. Just ask one of the super-friendly and helpful folks behind the counter at the Vapor Room. They'll set you up! (before the feds shut them down, that is).

And with that I'm out. Cheers.

Posted by Andy on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 8:37 am

A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.[1][2]

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

That's all you've got? You honestly think I need to make an "argument" to "prove" that people in the "Land of the Free" should be able to get married to the person whom they love and/or inhale the innocuous vapor of a god-given weed -- that none other than George frickin' Washington himself grew in his backyard -- without being prevented from doing so by the state or federal government? . . . particularly in light of the fact that the people in this community OVERWHELMINGLY support both of these activities? And you think the Guardian's out of touch? Dude, what planet are you from and why in god's name am I wasting another moment trying to communicate with you?

Excuse me, but have you ever heard of, "we hold these truths to be self evident?" Put the dictionary down long enough to realize how absurd you're being. If the basic human rights of life, liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness aren't self evident to someone, than no "argument" that I could make for same sex marriage or the right to grow harmless weeds in my yard, would have any impact on his viewpoint.

Besides I don't really give a rat's ass what you or any one else on here, who spends their entire life in front of a computer, thinks about my friends' rights to marry or my right to inhale THC vapor. Just please stay the hell out of our business when it comes to these matters. We're not in any way infringing upon your rights or harming you in any way, and all we expect is the same respect and courtesy from you.

But I suppose you want an "argument" for why I and my friends should expect to treated with fairness and respect? Think about that for a few minutes.

Dude your "straw man" nonsense would be comical if you didn't actually do this every day of your sad and lonely life. I tried to break through to you with a much deeper and genuine message about how you are wasting your life with your pointless, daily (hourly?) rantings on here that have no impact on the world (other than to perhaps spread little bits of your negativity and sadness around to others). I tried to reach out, but I won't bother any longer today, nor ever again. Good day and good luck. Much love. Cheers.

Posted by Andy on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

There are sound reasons to support it and to oppose it. Same with drugs. The problem is that every time you encounter someone who has a different POV than yourself, you launch into a tirade about how they are "stupid" or "trolling" or "hateful".

The myopia of the left can be stunning.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 3:14 pm

There are sound reasons to support it and oppose it.

Couldn't resist. You make this too easy, brother!

And I'm the one whose myopic because I believe in equal rights for everyone? It's almost sort of cute that you think that.

While I would love to hear your "sound" reasons (sorry, bible verses don't count as sound arguments outside of church) for opposing same sex marriage, or for opposing any type of marriage, for that matter, I think we've hit an impasse.

Anyways, just so you know, it's not just the Guardian, or "the left" in San Francisco who support same sex marriage and medicinal marijuana, it's basically everyone. So your argument is with the entire City, not with the author of this article or this newspaper. Again, as a good conservative, you should be able to relate to our desire to be left alone on personal activities that cause no harm to, nor infringe upon the rights of, anyone else and which the entire community has come to a consensus agreement upon. So I trust that you'll come around some day. Even if you remain afraid of gay people.

And you're right. I probably should have just stuck to calling you jealous and fearful of happily married gay people. Suggesting you might hate gay people was presumptuous and I do apologize for that. But since we've brought it up. Just ask yourself this question. (I won't be coming back to this discussion for your answer.) What do you honestly feel about gay people and why don't you want them to get married? And just sit with those thoughts for a few minutes. That's all I ask.

Nice chatting with you. Peace!

Posted by Andy on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

The debate is far more complex than ou comprehend. Over-simplifying it to the point of banal bumper stickers is about par for the course though

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

I couldn't get through your turgid self serving prose.

I'm all for personal liberty, gay marriage, legal weed, etc... all for it.

Your ravings are unreadable.

The progressive mindset seems to be that at whatever level you might win is where things should be decided.

At the federal level gay marriage should be decided, if you can win, at the state level legal weed should be decided, at the city level immigration should be decided etc...

If you can address things through that opportunism then cool, otherwise all your ravings are just strawman ravings. Not really very complictated. Try harder to not be doctrinaire.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

legal weed and gay marriage, it's comical that our poorly trained progressives are so opportunist.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 5:13 am

Was that supposed to make sense? Because Ive read it like ten times, and let me assure you that it does not.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 10:05 am

What is it about this post that irks you so much?

Why did you bother to comment on this piece? Do you actually believe that the feds should be shutting down dispensaries in our city, or are you just incessantly angry with everything you read on this site and so you simply couldn't stop yourself from making a pointless contrarian remark?

Because from everything I've read and learned, the war on drugs has done far more harm than the drugs themselves have ever done. Right? Do you disagree with this? Me thinks not, because it appears you were trying to say in a comment below that weed should be legal. So I'm really unclear on why you felt so compelled to make a jab at a journalist who is only doing her job and not hurting anyone and actually providing some coverage that many of us appreciate.

Seriously, brother. Ask yourself how you are making use of the precious few years of life you have on this earth. Why do you spend so much time reading and commenting on a website you hate so much? Let alone trying to pick fights when you don't even actually disagree with the points being made.

As one human being to another, I encourage you to reflect upon how you spend your time, your energy, and your gifts. All your bitter online comments railing against progressives who don't really have any power in this town anyway, won't matter one iota --- won't matter a single speck of dust -- when you're on your death bed. You, like "guest" commenting below, should honestly think about what you can do for yourself and others to engender a tiny bit of joy, beauty, or kindness for yourself and others. Life is too short, brother. Truly it is.

Some of us quite appreciate the Guardian and come on here for an alternative viewpoint and for coverage on issues that is difficult or impossible to find elsewhere. We look at a corporate dominated media and are thankful for different perspectives where we can find them. Even if we don't always agree with everything we read on here, we no less see the value in the wider discussion the Guardian helps to foster in our city. In all honesty, do you think the wider discussion sparked by the Guardian is truly so detrimental to our society? Do you think you must spend every waking moment refreshing your browser so that you can pounce immediately upon every "progressive" viewpoint, lest it go unchallenged and be allowed to destroy civilization as we know it?

It's like you and the other haters on here have a completely overinflated sense of the influence of this publication and your own role in bravely taking it on. If you know so much about what the world needs, and what's right and wrong and true and good, then GO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT -- for your own sake, if no one else's -- instead of spending your life in front of your computer growing old, complaining and arguing ad nauseam about trivial shit.

I'm not trying to be mean. Yes, you and other ever-present haters on here can be annoying, and it would be nice to see you cut back on the negative comments. But let's be clear, the real tragedy is YOUR LIFE that YOU are wasting. I'm being totally sincere when I say, think about what you're doing. Are you happy? Are you satisfied? Do you have any evidence at all that you're doing something worthwhile with your time? Save yourself, brother. Before it's too late. Peace.

Posted by Andy on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 11:27 am

No one knows what matters to him because he never expresses a coherent opinion on any topic. He just shows up here to bash progressives, which appears to be his raison d'etre in life. It's kind of sad, really.

He hangs out on this site 24/7, so in all likelihood, he is getting paid to post this crap. He probably answered an ad like this one from Craigslist:


Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

What a crazy conspiracy rant.

coherent opinion, voters have primacy on medical pot and things we like, federal government has the last word on everything we don't like, or maybe the state government, or maybe the rabble tearing up Oakland.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 12:50 am

I guess since there's no PAC money coming from the weed industry, it's a wrap for the cannabis patient. A damn shame.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

i think we need to do this the way all corporations get bills passed ...we need marijuana lobbyists

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

Legalize POT!

just say NO to Obama!!
just say NO to the drug gangs!
just say NO to the war on drugs industry!!

vote for Ron Paul even if u have to write him in!!!

Posted by sf T party on Feb. 19, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

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