SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown 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.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, California’s s four U.S. attorneys sent letters Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 pot shops or their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The attorneys are scheduled to announce their coordinated crackdown at a Friday news conference.

Their offices refused to confirm the closure orders. Attorney’s 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,” letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego read. “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 following a two-year period during which 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 appears to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

“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,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president’s drug czar who is 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.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (13)
  1. Ben says:

    Looks like big pharma is getting restless again. Here come the Nazis!!

  2. g. stacey says:

    Real good!!!!!! Lets put the sales of pot back on the street and all the crime that goes with it.

    1. Voice of Reason says:

      FYI, crime where these dope houses….I mean marijuana dispensaries….has gone up. All the criminals now know that the drug dealers…..darn!…I mean dispensary employees…sell the drug.

      1. bob says:

        You are wrong “voice” Studies in the past months have shown a decreese in crime in areas where dispenceries are open and legal.

    1. Tom says:

      Confusing for almost everyone saying… “what’s the big deal?” or “drugs are bad”.
      Well drugs ARE bad… or good depending on the patient. If used properly and as intended, some drugs are useful. As an example, vegetables are good for us but we also need protein.
      As a legal MJ patient that also needs retail drug stores for approved meds, this issue is confounded by the concern over a simple plant, the “big deal” for the legal system MUST be the threat of this product competing with alcohol, tobacco and other pharmaceuticals, which are derivatives of other plants. That’s all I can figure! Of course at this point, the confiscated funds are coveted by all agencies of a “raid” – involved or not.
      Our forefathers created this democracy based on a hierarchy of the people, “doctors and lawyers” at the top of the heap, for example, akin to the way of life that they knew in England that had Kings and Queens, etc.
      Certainly there is reason for concern; the dispensaries could launder money, fund illegal activities, and countless other concerns, but this can be regulated, and will be eventually.
      I would welcome buying my herbal medications along with other medications purchased at my local Walgreens. This scenario is a long way off as we battle the established industries that make countless dollars from alcohol and tobacco, or charge high prices for a new drug that might work.
      Granted, using this fairly inexpensive hemp plant to help us solve our aches and pains is not the whole answer, but it has a place. I know first hand. It is helpful in reducing alcohol, tobacco and other medication use, which is perhaps the biggest fear of “big brother”, which in turn upsets the balance of what our democracy has become.
      It is frustrating to try and make a case in this forum that will be read by only a few.
      I know and have known many people involved in this “grass-roots” industry, but we all must realize that with the consideration of taxation, etc. the MMJ industry needs regulation to keep everyone happy. This is what the “people” will accept, but not total stomp-downs from groups of people of agencies trying to fund their departments with more vehicles and equipment.
      So take a breath of fresh air and relax. It’s not over.

  3. Angry says:

    So much for “will of the people”

    When the voters in a state pass a ballot proposal, any ballot prosal; that is the end of the game! PERIOD! When a politician of any party then attempts to de-rail the clear will of the electorate, that politician should be stripped of office. Those elected, are elected to follow and/or enforce the will of the people! PERIOD!
    Any behavior other than that, if it was a federal issue, would be considered treason! I don’t know how to label is when it is a state matter, but it is blatant malfeasence. Violating the “formalized will of the people” by an elected official, in my opinion, rises to the level of a crime, specifically a felony! Misconduct in Office

  4. Muck Fu says:

    Great logic.Give illegals FREE services such as medical and college..and at the same time criminalize a plant with known healing properties.Not to mention the amount of revenue this profitable/helpful plant will generate.Establish California Republic and this can be a money maker for California.

  5. Voice of Reason says:

    So whats next? legalize meth? I hear it’s a great weight loss supplement.

    1. bob says:

      if this is the case They should outlaw Alcohol since it is the true gateway drug.
      If someone is going to do Meth or heroine they will regardless if they smoke pot or not. its called addictive personality

  6. Jet says:

    go for it…it will never work…thats my opinion…people will smoke weed no matter what, they smoked tons of weed before medical and they will smoke even more after it, Ithe feds will never be able to stop weed…they cant do jack stopping coke…

    Just another threat by the feds being paid off by the pharmacuticles, alcohol and tobacco companies…

    Besides, california will keep giving the feds the finger…

    And so will everyone else

  7. For t says:

    If I had a job I would not need to grow Medical Marijuana.

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