From California to Colorado, Feds Move in and Try to Disrupt Medical Marijuana Industry

While Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensaries have felt the pressure recently from the federal government, the discrimination isn’t limited to California.

The Denver Post recently reported that federal prosecutors are now going after medical marijuana dispensaries there, threatening to shut down these businesses if they are within 1,000 feet of a school.
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Our Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers think it’s a shame that state laws that have been on the books for years are now being ignored with little warning by federal authorities, who are trying to assert their own influence over day-to-day operations of these legal businesses.

Federal prosecutors don’t go to prescription drug companies and make their businesses move if they’re within 1,000 feet of a school, even though prescription drug abuse is much more rampant and much more dangerous than medical marijuana abuse. The sad truth is that because this is a hot-button issue and has been for years, there is more scrutiny and more discrimination.

According to the news article, prosecutors in recent weeks sent letters to 23 medical marijuana dispensaries, each located within 1,000 feet of a school. The letters informed these small business owners that they have 45 days to close down or they could end up facing criminal prosecution and asset forfeiture.

Federal prosecutors and local law enforcement officials are working to find more dispensaries that may be within 1,000 feet of schools so they can send out more threatening letters. The number is significant because federal drug penalties can be increased if they are committed within that distance of a school.

Federal officials had previously said they wouldn’t use their resources to go after people who were operating in compliance with state medical marijuana laws. But then during the summer, authorities clarified their position to state that they would come after dispensary owners, regardless of whether they are following the law or not.

So what’s going to happen here is people who legally rented or purchased office space are going to have to take on major debt to move to a new location, assuming they can find one, and perhaps be put at risk of enduring a lawsuit simply because federal authorities are trying to interfere. Rather than give business owners a normal amount of time to negotiate or try to work something out, federal prosecutors are bullying these people.

The same thing happened in California and is sure to happen in every state that has legalized medical marijuana, unfortunately. With pressure from the feds, landlords and local leaders will crumble and shun medical marijuana businesses, which, in turn, shuns the patients that this industry is aiming to help.

It’s a bad cycle that starts with officials looking to garner votes in the current election cycle. It’s no coincidence that this has begun happening at a time when political season is heating up and there are major political campaigns going on. It’s unfortunate that these business owners and their patients are being used as pawns.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, throughout Orange County and elsewhere throughout Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Riverside County Dispensaries, Others Come Under Fire For Medical Marijuana: January 14, 2012
Bay Area County Stops Medical Marijuana Program Based on Court Case: January 12, 2012
Additional Resources:

Feds: Colorado medical-marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school must close, by John Ingold, The Denver Post