A Los Angeles dispensary owner is seeking an injunction against the Justice Department and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, claiming both entities are overstepping their governmental powers by threatening to shut down his operation.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers will be watching the case to see whether the owner is successful, as it could have major implications with regard to the federal crackdowns that have been launched throughout the state in the last year.
It’s unclear how likely the challenge is to succeed, as others in the past have failed in this regard, but we certainly applaud the effort.
According to Courthouse News Service, federal agents with both the Department of Justice and the DEA raided the No Grey Sky dispensary downtown last month. The dispensary is in fact licensed by the state of California to legally dispense medical marijuana to patients with a doctor’s prescription. It’s request for an injunction states that the government is acting in excess of its authority granted under the Controlled Substances Act.
This is the federal act, passed in 1970, that outlines U.S. drug policy with regard to manufacturing, importing, possessing, using and distributing certain substances. Marijuana, under this act, is considered a Schedule I substance, which is that it is highly addictive and retains no legal value.
Because the language is quite plain in the federal law, it doesn’t appear likely this plaintiff will succeed in his request for an injunction – unless the case currently being heard in a D.C. federal appeals court overturns that schedule classification. In that case, cannabis advocates are arguing that the DEA has acted arbitrarily and capriciously in classifying the drug as a Schedule I, ignoring clear and expansive scientific evidence that the drug doesn’t meet that criteria.
If a favorable ruling is gained there, then it becomes plausible to effectively attack the federal government’s aggressive actions against dispensaries throughout the state.
As a candidate, President Barack Obama said more than once that dispensaries operating under the guidelines of state law would be left alone. Even after he became president, he said it wouldn’t be a priority. His Justice Department hasn’t adhered to those promises.
In Los Angeles, the city proposed in 2010 that all marijuana facilities should be licensed by the city, essentially reversing its de facto ban, which had been in place since 2007.
It was based on these facts that the dispensary owner decided to open a marijuana storefront, on the firm belief that in doing so, he was providing a valuable service to the ailing members of his community. However, he has now been punished for that. His offices have been raided. His bank accounts have dwindled. He faces criminal charges. And his property may be subject to forfeiture, based on the threats of federal authorities.
The request for injunction maintains that to shut down the dispensary permanently would mean elderly and disabled individuals would be forced to purchase the drug illegally, which would end up siphoning off valuable law enforcement resources, which would otherwise be used to address more serious crimes.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Marijuana Dispensary Takes on Uncle Sam, Oct. 31, 2012, By Matt Reynolds, Courthouse News Service
More Blog Entries:
Conviction of Medical Marijuana Co-Op Manager Reversed, Oct. 31, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog