Feds crack down on California pot dispensaries

by Veranica Natal | Chronicle Photo

The federal Government is targeting some of California’s medical marijuana dispensaries by claiming that some operations are “fronts for illegal drug dealing” which does not comply with state law, according to USA Today.

A 45-day notice has been given to several dispensaries ordering them to close or be faced with criminal charges.

However, in the Central District of California (CDCA) where San Bernardino is located, there have only been 14-day notices given out, according to Thom Mrozek, public affairs officer at the U.S.  Attorney’s office.

USA Today states that federal prosecutors at the news conference revealed the commercial marijuana industry would be cracked down, particularly by athletic fields, schools, and parks.
Mrozek said that each of the four California districts are approaching the issue generally the same.

“Some of the ‘collections’ or dispensaries that have received the 45-day notice; the Feds have no evidence or reason to give them such notice based on the idea that there is illegal drug trafficking going on in some of those collections,” said Damian Nassiri, from the Cannabis Law Group aka “the medical marijuana lawyers.”

According to a press release released by the CDCA Oct. 7, a lot of the places targeted in this district have been because local officials have been coming to the U.S. Attorney’s office asking for help.

The press release goes on to share a story of how a store under investigation had “23 and half pounds of marijuana,” and two 16 year old boys were also caught smoking in the store.
“And that was just one random store under investigation,” said Mrozek.

Mrozeck explained The Compassionate Use Act in 1996 was passed for ill Californians to obtain marijuana for medical purposes as recommended by a physician that will better that ill patient, and to protect that patient and their caregiver.

“It begs the question: why do these dispensaries need a store front when they are not a patient or a caregiver?” said Mrozek.

“If they (the federal government) just strictly regulate all of us, they’ll know what we’re doing,” said Dewayne “Dewbie” O’Brien, a volunteer at a local medical marijuana dispensary in San Bernardino.

O’Brien goes on to say, if innocent dispensaries shutdown, it will drastically affect a lot of patients because they rely on them. People will get their medicine whatever way possible, which means even going to the black market.

The Cannabis Law Group web site mentions how these closures are going to take away safe access and tax revenue. Damian Nassiri said, “These dispensaries also have kept the crime rate down.”

“I personally don’t agree with smoking marijuana, however those medical marijuana dispensaries do bring in money for our state that really needs it right now, so for that reason I think the dispensaries should stay,” said Lacie Hall, CSUSB student.

“However, I do think there should be a more strict regulation and distribution of medical marijuana because in high school, my friends could go easily get a medical marijuana card,” Hall continued.

The federal government has said that they are focusing on large-scale owners and growers that are taking in millions; however, falsely claiming that their operations comply with state law, “which does not allow for-profit sales,” as reported in the Los Angeles Times

O’Brien further commented on this report by saying, “If they are doing this 45-day notice just to get rid of those collections that aren’t paying taxes and abusing medical marijuana, I’m fine with those close downs, just not all of us!”

“We have seen an unprecedented expansion of marijuana over the last few years; an explosion of the number of stores and the number of commercial grow operations in California; it has become a medical marijuana industry and it’s all about the money,” said Mrozek, “whether it’s the large stores or the smaller stores, they are illegal under federal law.”

Mrozek explained that California law does not allow for thousands of marijuana stores. “It’s hard to believe that many people are sick. Bottom line it is illegal under federal law.”

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