The city of Oakland told a federal magistrate Thursday that the federal government's shutdown of the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary would damage residents' health and welfare as well as the city's revenues. The 90-minute hearing in San Francisco was a potentially critical stage in the legal battle that started in July when U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed suit to close down Harborside Health Center and seize the building for violation of federal drug laws. Oakland claims the suit was filed too late and also argues that the city, and the dispensary, were entitled to rely on the Obama administration's public statements that it would not target suppliers who complied with state medical marijuana laws. "The government stood by for six years and they knew full well that every single day there were hundreds of sales," while President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and other administration officials made reassuring statements about deferring to the states, Chao said.
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