Berkeley pot club carries on fight to stay open

BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) -- A Berkeley pot club scored a legal victory in its ongoing fight against the federal government.

A federal judge agreed to allow Berkeley Patients Group on San Pablo Avenue to remain open while it defends itself in court.

"We're ecstatic," said BPG chief operating officer Sean Luse.

In May 2013, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag moved to shutter the 15-year-old shop, threatening to seize assets if marijuana continued to be distributed.

The property owner and the city of Berkeley sued to block the forfeiture.

The judge's ruling Friday will keep BPG in business while the courts decide whether the city can join the legal fight to keep the club in business for good.

"We do feel that ultimately what we're doing is right," Luse told KTVU. "It's only a matter of time before everyone figures that out."

While medical marijuana is legal in California and in half of the United States, it is still illegal under federal law.

"We're definitely caught in this no man's land," said Luse.

He's surprised and confused by the continued threats of closure given the Obama administration's shift in drug policy.

"The President, Congress, even Eric Holder, the Attorney General, has made some very good statements and we've passed some good laws this year that have really protected medical cannabis," Luse said. "But that has yet to trickle down to our local U.S. Attorney's Office."

Just a few months ago Congress passed a spending bill that prohibited the Department of Justice from using funds to go after medical cannabis businesses that comply with state law.

Still, federal prosecutors are pushing ahead with shutting down BPG. Next stop for the case, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.