After maintaining a relatively high level of silence, US Attorney Melinda Haag (Northern California) spoke to the media last week about her, and the Justice Department’s, reasoning for the recent crackdowns on medical marijuana collectives throughout California.
Haag claims that the reason for the crackdowns is that “many” people have complained to her about marijuana collectives being a threat to children and creating crime in the communities. She explained, “When a dispensary comes to my attention that is close to a school, a park, a playground or children, that’s a line I’ve decided to draw.”
This statement rings a bit hypocritical, as some of the dispensaries that were shut down were in neighborhoods surrounded by strip clubs, liquor stores, and adult stores– apparently Haag doesn’t believe those to have as negative of an impact on children as she thinks a collective does.
One of Haag’s recent shutdowns includes Berkeley Patients Group, a dispensary which operates out of an old car dealership in Berkeley, CA. According to Mayor Tom Bates, “There have been no complaints [about BPG]. We get compliments from neighbors.” In spite of this, Haag is still forcing the collective to close.
Speaking about BPG, Bates continued, “There were no instances of violence, they were excellent neighbors, they had good security, they contributed to the economy and helped local nonprofits by making contributions. The voters of this city voted unanimously that they wanted to have four dispensaries in Berkeley and that was it. We grandfathered them in. But evidently we get trumped by the federal government.”
In response to Bates’ concerns, Haag said, “I hear them, but I have a hard time making that distinction [between good and bad dispensaries]. I have already drawn a line.”
The reasoning of “marijuana collectives equal automatic danger” seems to be the common excuse among anti-marijuana constituents in Northern California, although there has never been presentation of formal evidence that collectives have indeed increased the amount of crime in the Bay Area, nor have they brought forth figures to demonstrate that collectives in the city have led to an increase in marijuana use among teens and children.