Medical Pot at Center of California Battle

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 7 (UPI) — A medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland, Calif., says it opposes the city’s plans to permit legal marijuana farms and put marijuana tax measures to voters.

Harborside Health Center, believed to be the world’s largest medical marijuana dispensary, says it is fighting for the product’s integrity, standing by the vision of state voters when they legalized pot as medicine in 1996, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

But some say Harborside’s opposition to the city’s intentions is just a business move for a dispensary that’s become a leading player in an industry that hasn’t totally shaken its illicit image.

“Really, they’re just wanting to protect their market share,” said Indigo Moonstar, 28, who said he operates a small marijuana growing facility in Oakland. “They’ve had a corner on the market.”

A ballot proposition on the November California ballot could legalize recreational use of the drug, a profound change that could raise issues other legal industries have long had to deal with such as taxation, regulation and competition.

Harborside chief Stephen DeAngelo says his efforts to slow government intrusion into the medical marijuana field are critical for the emergent industry.

“Society has a chance to get it right this time,” he said. “We didn’t get it right with tobacco. We didn’t get it right with alcohol. We put those potentially dangerous substances in the hands of corporations who had no interest other than making as much money as possible.

“Do we want those kinds of companies getting their hands on cannabis?” DeAngelo asked.

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