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Federal court rejects Oakland's bid to save giant medical pot dispensary

Federal court rejects Oakland's bid to save giant medical pot dispensary
A worker sorts through buds last year at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland, a huge medical marijuana dispensary that the federal government is trying to shut down. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Oakland lost a legal fight Thursday to prevent the federal government from shutting down the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary.

In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the city had standing to sue because Oakland stands to lose tax revenue if Harborside Health Center, a warehouse-sized dispensary, is closed.

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But the panel said the U.S. Department of Justice also had the legal right to try to shutter the  Oakland-based cannabis retailer.

If the ruling becomes final, the case will return to district court for hearings on the government's action. Oakland would not be permitted to weigh in.

Cedric Chao, who represents Oakland in the case, said the city has not yet decided whether to ask a larger panel of the 9th Circuit to review the matter.

The court is "basically telling Oakland and its 400,000 citizens that notwithstanding injuries, it doesn't have access to the courts," Chao said.

The federal government has been trying to close Harborside, which also has operations in San Jose, since 2012.

Twitter: @mauradolan

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