Kriss Worthington, a member of the Berkeley city council, speaks against the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department to forfeit the property that is home to the Berkeley Patients Group, at a press conference on Wednesday. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
Kriss Worthington, a member of the Berkeley City Council, speaks against the lawsuit filed by the Justice Department to forfeit the property that is home to the Berkeley Patients Group, at a press conference on Wednesday. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

A group of prominent East Bay political leaders spoke out Wednesday against a federal attempt to close the Berkeley Patients Group, one of California’s oldest medical marijuana dispensaries.

Mayor Tom Bates, several members of the Berkeley City Council and a representative of Congresswoman Barbara Lee defended the dispensary against a forfeiture lawsuit that was filed on May 2 by U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

“It’s just incomprehensible why they would waste their time attacking law-abiding, taxpaying business, rather than going after the serious crime problems,” City Council member Kriss Worthington said.

“I think this is a horrible waste of money and a distraction,” he added.

Worthington said forcing patients to get their medicine underground  “is taking us back 20 years.”

Patrona, a patient who gave only her first name, sat in her wheelchair with the political leaders. She said that she has suffered from six strokes and that closing the Berkeley Patients Group could have a serious impact on her life.

“Medical marijuana has stopped them (the strokes) completely,” Patrona said.

The Berkeley Patients Group said it has helped the lives of thousands of patients like Patrona over the years since opening in 1996. Just over a year ago it was forced to move from its last location. But the group says it has always complied with everything that has been asked of it.

“We’re shocked. We are very surprised that we would be served with this forfeiture complaint,” said Sean Luse, the group’s chief operations officer.

“We intend to fight this using every legal means available,” he added.

“They follow all of Berkeley’s laws, they’ve gotten the right permits, they pay their taxes every year, they give us millions of dollars,” Worthington said.

“We’re looking forward to our day in court and we are confident that we will ultimately prevail,” Luse said.

Political Leaders Defend Berkeley Pot Dispensary From U.S. Lawsuit 9 May,2013KQED News Staff

  • PaulstarD

    Melinda Haag’s actions are a disgrace. It’s easy to pick on the sick and the weak. To sit back and send her thugs to claim property that isn’t hers so she can point to these so-called accomplishments when the current administration is over and her mess goes to the next appointee. Closing BPG gets ZERO criminals off our streets. It cause undeserved stress and pain to patients who use this medicine for stress and pain. Haag in her most cowardly move uses the welfare of children to justify her actions, that result in more children and their now unemployed parent/s ON welfare. Melinda Haag is an awful human being.

  • rsteeb

    Not just a “waste of money” and distraction, this is an atrocity. Haag had best accumulate reparations for when JUSTICE prevails.

  • Neko Tori

    As a long time Libertarian, and pro-Medical MJ supporter, I must point out that it has been the Democrats who by and large, have been the party that has gone after the Medical MJ community. 10 to 1 DEA raids compared to when the GOP is behind the wheel.

    This speaks volumes.

    The unparalleled Hypocrisy of the Left needs to stop now!

  • Neko Tori

    To the nay-sayers. A Republican from So-Cal is the one leading the charge in DC, to pass a law, that makes it illegal for the Feds to shut down Medical MJ Dispensaries.

    We Libertarians have been pro-Sick peoples rights since day one.

    I guess the Left is too busy infringing on the Constitution, arming Mexican drug cartels and Al-Qaida to be worried about sick peoples right to medicine that actually helps.




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