The feds have landed.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that federal prosecutors are moving to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. The feds have sent letters to landlords, warning them to stop drug sales on their properties within 45 days or risk property sale and seizures.
Our Los Angeles medical marijuana defense lawyers are closely following this issue. As we reported recently on our Marijuana Lawyer Blog, the conflict between state and federal law continues to surface in medical marijuana court decisions across Southern California.
The specter of federal marijuana dispensary charges in Los Angeles is real. Despite initial indication from the Obama Administration that the feds were not looking to enforce laws contrary to medical marijuana patient rights, the federal government has steadily moved toward stricter enforcement. We reported earlier this year that the Internal Revenue Service was getting involved in going after medical marijuana dispensaries in Southern California.
This latest move is seen by many as a major escalation in federal enforcement after the previous announcement led to a boom in marijuana-related businesses.
“It’s basically the federal bureaucracy doing what it has done for the last 15 years and just continuing to put its head in the sand and saying no on this,” said Dale Gieringer, the director of California NORML.
The four U.S. attorneys have scheduled a press conference Friday morning in Sacramento, where they plan to outline the enforcement plans. Earlier this year, an internal memo suggested the feds would primarily target large-scale growers and dispensaries — those handling more than 200 kilos or 1,000 plants per year.
The landlord for the oldest dispensary in the state — Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax– is among those who have received a letter. That letter mentioned the prohibition against dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a park or other sensitive areas.
“There’s always been a different policy depending on where you are,” said Gieringer. “They’re going to try to clean up San Diego and just cause some random damage up here.”
While running for president, Obama said the government should not raid users and caregivers. It became the administration’s official policy three months after he was elected. Since then, the feds have consistently backpedaled from that stance.
The U.S. Attorney in the Bay Area opposed moves by Oakland and Berkeley to permit large-scale cultivation. These latest letters are just one more indication that the government is saying one thing and doing another when it comes to medical marijuana.
The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Southern California– including growers, dispensaries and collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
IRS Rules could Result in Capone-like Prosecution for L.A. Marijuana Dispensaries, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, March 29, 2011.
IRS auditing California medical marijuana dispensary, Marijuana Lawyer Blog, Feb. 25, 2011.