Several dozen pro-marijuana protesters swarmed U.C. Berkeley's campus Saturday to protest the visit of Attorney General Eric Holder, on hand to address the graduating law school class.
Meanwhile, an airplane circled above the school's Greek Theater for more than two hours, flying a banner that read, "Holder: End Rx Cannabis War #Peace4Patients." As Holder's limousine turned toward the ceremony, demonstrators waved signs declaring, "Fight Crime, Not Cannabis."
"There's no doubt we got the A.G.'s attention," Dale Gieringer, president of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told The Huffington Post. "He can't come to Berkeley and not be reminded of his department's bad faith with respect to medical marijuana."
In recent years, marijuana advocates have harshly criticized Holder and the Obama administration for the increased federal crackdown on the state's flourishing medical cannabis industry.
Though California legalized pot for medicinal purposes when voters passed the landmark Proposition 215 in 1996, the plant remains illegal on a federal level. Though Holder specifically stated he would not go after states that supported medical marijuana, in late 2011, the Justice Department reversed course, forcing dispensaries across California to close. Since then, hundreds of businesses have shuttered, leaving thousands without jobs.
Just days before Holder's appearance in Berkeley, federal prosecutors began proceedings to shut down the nearby Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest and most respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the Bay Area.
Related on HuffPost:
$13.7 Billion Saved On Prohibition Enforcement Costs
The government would save an estimated $13.7 billion on prohibition enforcement costs and tax revenue by legalizing marijuana, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/economists-marijuana-legalization_n_1431840.html" target="_hplink">according to a paper endorsed by 300 economists</a>.
$500 Million In Tax Revenue For Washington State
It's estimated that Washington's legalization of marijuana could bring the state an<a href="http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/national/marijuana-legalization-decision-washington-colorado-oregon-can-pot-stimulate-the-economy" target="_hplink"> additional $500 million in tax revenue</a>, WPTV reports.
$60 Million Saved By Colorado Legalization
Colorado's pot legalization legislation, Amendment 64, is estimated to create <a href="http://csbj.com/2012/11/02/marijuana-economic-stimulant-or-just-a-can-of-worms/" target="_hplink">$60 million for the state in combined savings and additional tax revenue</a>, Colorado Springs Business Journal reports.
Legalization Could Reduce Marijuana Prices
Marijuana users could see substantial savings due to marijuana legalization, as <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/legalizing-marijuana-washington-colorado_n_2088375.html?1352310298" target="_hplink">prices could fall by up to 100 times</a>, perhaps freeing up some cash to spend on other things.
Huge Prison Cost Savings
Inmates incarcerated on marijuana-related charges cost U.S. prisons $1 billion annually, according to a 2007 study, <a href="http://www.alternet.org/rights/47815/" target="_hplink">AlterNet reports</a>.
Marijuana Prohibition Costs Taxpayers $41.8 Billion A Year
Including lost tax revenues, a 2007 study found that enforcing the marijuana prohibition costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually, <a href="http://www.forbes.com/2007/09/29/marijuana-laws-work-biz-cx_qh_1001pot.html" target="_hplink">Forbes</a> reports.
California Marijuana Crop Worth $14 Billion A Year
Marijuana growers account for <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1884956,00.html" target="_hplink">$14 billion a year in sales in California</a>, making it the state's most valuable cash crop, TIME reports.
Illegal Marijuana A $36 Billion A Year Industry
It's estimated that <a href="http://madamenoire.com/106691/capitalizing-on-the-billion-dollar-marijuana-industry/" target="_hplink">illegal marijuana is a $36 billion industry</a> in the U.S., MadameNoire reports.
Dispensary Ads Boost Newspapers' Revenue
The <em>Sacramento News and Review</em> saw a big boost in ad revenue when it offered advertising space for more than 60 medical marijuana dispensaries, enabling the publication to hire three additional employees, <a href="http://www.news10.net/news/local/article/144285/2/Marijuana-ads-mean-big-money-for-weekly-newspaper" target="_hplink">according to News 10</a>.
Mendocino Zip Tie Program Raised $600,000
Mendocino County, California's zip tie program aimed at regulating medical marijuana growing by charging permits for each plant raised <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/medical-marijuana-license-mendocino_n_1193198.html" target="_hplink">$600,000 in revenue in for the Sheriff's department</a> in 2011.
Oakland Raised More Than $1 Million In Marijuana Tax Revenue
The city of Oakland, California raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011, 3 percent of the city's total business tax revenue, according to <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a>.
Colorado Pulls In $5 Million From Pot Sales Tax
In 2011, Colorado pulled in $5 milllion in sales taxes from medical marijuana businesses, <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/12/us/cities-turn-to-a-crop-for-cash-medical-marijuana.html?_r=1" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.
Legal Marijuana Could Be $100 Billion Industry
Economist Stephen Easton estimated in 2010 that <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/debateroom/archives/2010/03/legalize_mariju.html" target="_hplink">legal marijuana could be a $45 to $100 billion industry</a>, <em>Bloomberg Businessweek</em> reports.
Each weGrow Center Creates 75 Jobs
When hydroponic marijuana growing supply chain weGrow opens a new store it <a href="http://aznow.biz/small-biz/wegrow-phoenix-opens-cultivates-opportunities-arizona)" target="_hplink">creates an estimated 75 jobs</a> indirectly, according to AZBusiness Magazine.