For the past two years the Obama has indicated that they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where marijuana is legal with a doctors’ prescription. In an about face that will surely irk his liberal base the administration has announced that they will be cracking down on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.
The Associated Press obtained copies of 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.”
“This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The administration is simply making good on multiple threats issued since President Obama took office,” said Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president’s drug czar and a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Substance Abuse Solutions. “The challenge is to balance the scarcity of law enforcement resources and the sanctity of this country’s medication approval process. It seems like the administration is simply making good on multiple statements made previously to appropriately strike that balance.”
Really? Someone needs to show Mr. Sabet the following video in which President Obama clearly states that he “will not use Justice Dept resources to circumvent state laws on this issue”
Greg Anton, a lawyer who represents dispensary Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said its landlord received an “extremely threatening” letter Wednesday invoking a federal law that imposes additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.
The landlord was ordered to evict the 14-year-old pot club or risk imprisonment, forfeiture of the property and all the rent he has collected while the dispensary has been in business, Anton said.
Marin Alliance’s founder “has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks,” he said. “All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget, but he has money to do this which will actually reduce revenues.”
Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, said the warnings are an attempt by the Obama administration to curb medical marijuana on multiple fronts and through multiple agencies. As was the case in Montana in which a series of dispensary raids involved agents from the FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Internal Revenue Service and Environmental Protection Agency.
Duffy, the U.S. attorney for far Southern California, planned to issue warning letters to property owners and all of the 180 or so dispensaries that have proliferated in San Diego in the absence of compromise regulations, according to Goldsmith.
“The real power is with the federal government,” he said. “They have the asset forfeiture, and that means either the federal government will own a lot of property or these landlords will evict a lot of dispensaries.”
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