From the Associated Press:
Federal prosecutors in California are cracking down on some of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries, signaling an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry.
The four U.S. attorneys in California, the first state to pass a law legalizing marijuana use for patients with doctors’ recommendations, have scheduled a joint news conference Friday where they plan to “outline actions targeting the sale, distribution and cultivation of marijuana.”
Their offices refused to provide details in advance what moves the officials are taking or how many of the state’s hundreds of storefront pot shops would be affected. But at least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters this week warning face they would face criminal charges and confiscation of their property if the dispensaries do not shut down in 45 days.
The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to at least 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”
“Under United States law, a dispensary’s operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” according to the letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego. “Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States … regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.”
The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors’ recommendations.
The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appeared to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.
Read the whole thing here.