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Oakland Pot Club Vows To Fight Federal Crackdown

OAKLAND (CBS 5) -- While federal attorneys have moved to shut down an Oakland marijuana dispensary, one of the largest in the nation, the club has no intention of shutting its doors.

Helena Welch is one of more than 100,000 patients who walk through the doors at Harborside Health Center. Her biggest fear is a possible shutdown by federal authorities.

"Now we have to be afraid of where we can go, if we don't have access," Welch said.

Harborside is one of the nation's largest and higher profile cannabis dispensaries. The club was featured in the TV show "Weed Wars" and was touted as an example of all that is good in the industry.

"There is no reason to kick down our door," said attorney Henry Wykowski, who represents the dispensary. "We are proud of what we do, and we do it openly."

KCBS' Jeffrey Scahub Reports:

But Harborside has come under federal scrutiny for its large size, with federal authorities calling it a marijuana superstore.

"But the reason we have the largest number of patients is because we have provided the highest level of care," Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo said.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag issued a statement saying, "The larger the operation, the greater the likelihood that there will be abuse of the state's medical marijuana laws, and marijuana in the hands of individuals who do not have a demonstrated medical need."

Oakland's City Attorney is firing back at the federal complaint, saying it would force patients into an underground market of street corners and back alleys, undermining public safety.

The federal government has already threatened to shut down hundreds of California dispensaries in the past year. Nearby Oaksterdam University, which offers training in the medial marijuana industry, was raided in April.

"We have no intention of closing our doors," said DeAngelo.

Harborside has an additional location in San Jose, which is also being targeted for closure.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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