California Medical Marijuana
A volunteer weighed dried cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, March 18, 2014. Three California congressman say the feds should leave an Oakland medical marijuana dispensary alone. Reuters

Three members of Congress from California say the U.S. Justice Department “overstepped its bounds” by trying to shutter a large medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland as a federal court case against the Harborside Health Center continues. The members said the legal action against the mega-dispensary shows that the Justice Department isn’t following its declared policy to focus on illicit street drugs instead of medical marijuana made legal through state laws.

“As members of Congress who have been involved in passage of the Rohrabacher-Farr language and in other efforts to reform federal marijuana laws, we believe DOJ is not acting within the spirit or the letter of the law nor in the best interests of the people who depend on Harborside for reliable, safe medical marijuana,” wrote Reps. Sam Farr, Dana Rohrabacher and Barbara Lee -- the authors of an amendment that passed in December that blocks the Department of Justice from interfering with the laws of California and other states that have made medical marijuana legal -- in a statement.

Lee, who represents Oakland, and Farr are liberal Democrats while Rohrabacher is a conservative-libertarian Republican.

Legal arguments in the Harborside case were heard earlier this month by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the congressmen said. The federal government has been attempting to shutter the dispensary since 2013 and seize its marijuana amid claims that the dispensary is so huge that it is likely selling medical marijuana to people who don’t have a medical condition, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Harborside has a smaller operation in San Jose.

“We believe DOJ has overstepped its bounds in the Harborside case. The action against Harborside would appear to violate the 2013 guidance issued by the [Justice] Department,” the congressmen wrote, referring to the federal government's shift toward enforcement of illegal drugs over expending resources to go after medical marijuana in states where it is legal. The city of Oakland is defending the dispensary, saying its closure would harm the city’s interests, according to the Mercury News.