Linswritings

Medical Marijuana dealers being shut down

Posted on: October 7, 2011

Medical Marijuana dealers are being told to shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges. Federal prosecutors are cracking down on some of the pot dispensaries in California, even though they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

As we have said in the past, medical marijuana state laws are having problems with the Federal law that prohibits marijuana sales. At least 16 pot shops or their landlords received letters stating that they are violating federal drug laws. At least twelve San Diego dispensaries have received these letters. As we know federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”

Now this is another conundrum that states are facing. The Obama administration decided to toughen 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.

“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.”

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, plus 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.”

Is now the time to crack down on these dispensaries when the country needs revenue? What is this administration thinking?

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