Our friends at California NORML just sent out this press release:
SAN FRANCISCO – In yet another attack by the Obama administration on medical marijuana, US Attorneys in California have sent out a series of letters threatening landlords with property forfeiture for renting their property to dispensaries deemed too close to “sensitive areas” such as schools and parks.
Prominent among the targets is the state’s longest-operating dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax,
which enjoys official support from the city and has been operating without complaint since July 3rd, 1996. In a threatening letter to
MAMM’s landlord, the US Attorney for Northern California warned that MAMM was operating within a “prohibited distance of a park.” It goes on to warn the landlord that he could be liable for imprisonment of up to 40 years, forfeiture of the property, and
forfeiture of all rental proceeds from the last 15 years for violating federal law if MAMM isn’t evicted.
Other dispensary landlords in the state have received threatening federal letters for operating too close to schools, even though they
are abiding with state regulations. Under state law, dispensaries are forbidden to operate within 600 feet of schools, the same distance as liquor stores. However, a federal law, Title 21 USC 860, imposes additional penalties for sales or distribution of controlled
substances within 1,000 feet of schools, colleges, playgrounds, and a host of other areas; the law was originally intended to prevent drug dealing at schools, but is being used by US Attorneys to harass otherwise inoffensive collectives. The Marin Alliance is sited within 1,000 feet of Bolinas Park, where there is a little league playground; the dispensary closes during little league games.
“This is nuts,” says Greg Anton, attorney for the Marin Alliance and its director, Lynnette Shaw. ”There’s a dispensary near where I
live that sells guns, narcotics, alcohol and tobacco and it’s full of children. It’s called Walmart, and it’s safe. So is Lynnette’s
place. She’s proven that over 15 years.”
California NORML denounced the DOJ action as an example of unwarranted federal overregulation. ”It’s an outrageous abuse of law
enforcement resources for the DOJ to use property forfeiture to enforce meddlesome, nanny-state regulations,” said Cal NORML Director Dale Gieringer. “The federal government has no business dictating local zoning decisions. No one has any problems with the Marin Alliance except the bureaucrats in Washington.”
The federal crackdown is the latest of a series of actions by the Obama administration aimed at harassing and crippling state-
recognized medical marijuana distributors. The IRS has assessed crippling penalties on tax-paying dispensaries by denying standard
expense deductions; the Department of Treasury has browbeaten banks into closing accounts of medical marijuana clients; and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms BATF has warned firearms dealers to treat medical marijuana patients like drug addicts and forbid them from buying guns.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has continued to block federal approval of medical marijuana. The DEA recently rejected a nine-year-old petition to reschedule marijuana for medical use, disregarding scores of scientific studies that have shown marijuana’s efficacy. In its reply, the DEA claimed that it would only accept large-scale, controlled FDA trials. In a Catch-22, however, the DEA has deliberately blocked such trials from happening by refusing to approve the licensing of a private production facility to supply
marijuana for medical research and development at the University of Massachusetts. The only existing legal source for research marijuana in the country is the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which recently blocked a request to study marijuana for treatment of PTSD and has said that it has no intention of developing its marijuana for medical use.
The federal government’s failure to allow medical use of marijuana remains an unwarranted source of confusion, frustration, and legal
problems for patients, providers, public officials and law enforcement alike. The administration’s war on dispensaries also threatens to
have adverse economic impacts on jobs and tax revenues. Cal NORML estimates that the state’s medical marijuana industry now accounts for some $1.5 – 4.5 billion in sales, tens of thousands jobs, and over $100 million in taxes. ”In this time of economic hardship, it makes absolutely no sense to drive legal medical marijuana providers out of business, force consumers onto the criminal market, and suppress this economical alternative to more costly but less efficacious prescription medicines,” says Gieringer.
Cal NORML urges supporters to call on the administration to end the federal attack on state medical marijuana laws and reschedule
marijuana for medical use. White House Hotline: 202-456-1111. On-line petitions at <https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/
Congressional bills to fix medical marijuana laws include the ”States’ Medical Marijuana Protection Act, HR 1983 [Rep. Frank];
the ”Ending Prohibition Act” HR 2306 [Frank], the Small Business Banking Improvement Act HR 1984 [Polis] and/or the Small Business
Equity Tax Act HR 1985 [ Stark].
KGO – ABC Report:
Feds target pot clubs located too close to schools
Updated at 06:52 PM today
Watch video story (3:14) - http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The federal government is going after medical marijuana dispensaries that are too close to schools by targeting the buildings that have pot clubs as tenants.e
Sultan Alkhraisat owns a medical marijuana dispensary in the back of a cafe in San Francisco’s Mission District. The pot club is half a block away from the San Francisco Friends School. In fact, there are several other cannabis dispensaries near Friends and two other schools.
Alkhraisat declined to be interviewed, but he did confirm that the owner of his building received a letter from the U.S. Attorney last week. It said, ”there is a marijuana dispensary operating…within a prohibited distance of a school.” And that it “may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets.”
ABC7 has learned that the same letter has been sent to many other pot clubs operating in Northern California.
Even though medical marijuana is allowed by the state, any type of marijuana is illegal under federal law.
The U.S. Attorney’s office declined to be interviewed, but a spokesperson said they are targeting dispensaries which are operating within 1,000 feet of schools.
“That is a legitimate rule and it makes sense when it’s so close to a school,” Mission District resident Dave Blair said.
Attorney Brendan Hallinan represents pot club owners and their landlords. He believes the government is waging a quiet campaign against his clients.
“They’re not, you know, kicking in doors and taking people to jail, but they’re creating a climate that’s making it nearly impossible for
medical cannabis collectives to survive,” Hallinan said.
Hallinan adds that major and regional banks have recently stopped doing business with dispensaries, and that they can no longer get accounts with those banks and the IRS no longer allows them to write off business expenses.
The U.S. Attorney in Sacramento sent out a similar letter last week to building owners in the eastern part of the state.