Feds Target Property Owners of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in California

Categories: Medical Weed

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer right about medical marijuana? If the feds get away with shutting down the nationa's medical marijuana dispensary, it'd be hard to argue otherwise.

The feds launched a new assault in their fight against medical marijuana today, threatening to seize the property of California medical marijuana dispensaries unless they close within 45 days.

If there's no push-back from the states that have legalized weed for qualified patients, including Arizona, it looks like this could be the end of the road for what has been a thriving, though not altogether legal, medical marijuana industry.

Oh, and Jan Brewer will be proved right.

As for medical marijuana users themselves -- the feds say they'll be left alone. Rather, as a U.S. Department of Justice official told us yesterday, no resources will be focused on "individuals with serious illness or their immediate caregivers who are in compliance with applicable state medical marijuana statutes."

Trouble is, the Obama Administration is setting up quite a conflict for itself. It'll be shutting down an arguably legal supply of medical marijuana, but not the demand.

Whichever Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election expresses support for dispensaries may well win a High Times endorsement.

UPDATE: Here's the entire news release from the U.S. Attorneys in California that was released on Friday:



SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The four California-based U.S. Attorneys today announced coordinated enforcement actions targeting the illegal operations of the commercial marijuana industry in California.

The statewide enforcement effort is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California's Proposition 215 in 1996. That industry has swelled to include numerous drug-trafficking enterprises that operate commercial grow operations, intricate distribution systems and hundreds of marijuana stores across the state -- even though the federal Controlled Substances Act makes illegal the sale and distribution of marijuana.

While the four U.S. Attorneys have tailored enforcement actions to the specific problems in their own districts, the statewide enforcement efforts fall into three main categories:

· Civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in drug trafficking activity, which includes, in some cases, marijuana sales in violation of local ordinances;

· Letters of warning to the owners and lienholders of properties where illegal marijuana sales are taking place; and

· Criminal cases targeting commercial marijuana activities, including arrests over the past two weeks in cases filed in federal courts in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno, Calif.

The enforcement actions being announced today are the result of the four U.S. Attorneys working with federal law enforcement partners and local officials across California to combat commercial marijuana activities that are having the most significant impacts in communities.

"The actions taken today in California by our U.S. Attorneys and their law enforcement partners are consistent with the Department's commitment to enforcing existing federal laws, including the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), in all states," said Deputy Attorney General James Cole. "The department has maintained that we will not focus our investigative and prosecutorial resources on individual patients with serious illnesses like cancer or their immediate caregivers. However, U.S. Attorneys continue to have the authority to prosecute significant violations of the CSA, and related federal laws."

"Large commercial operations cloak their moneymaking activities in the guise of helping sick people when in fact they are helping themselves," said Benjamin B. Wagner, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. "Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them. We are making these announcements together today so that the message is absolutely clear that commercial marijuana operations are illegal under federal law, and that we will enforce federal law."

"The federal enforcement actions are aimed at commercial marijuana operations, including marijuana grows, marijuana stores and mobile delivery services - all illegal activities that generate huge profits," said André Birotte Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. "The marijuana industry is controlled by profiteers who distribute marijuana to generate massive and illegal profits."

"The California marijuana industry is not about providing medicine to the sick," commented Laura E. Duffy, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. "It's a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law. In addition to damaging our environment, this industry is creating significant negative consequences, in California and throughout the nation. As the number one marijuana producing state in the country, California is exporting not just marijuana but all the serious repercussions that come with it, including significant public safety issues and perhaps irreparable harm to our youth."

"Marijuana stores operating in proximity to schools, parks, and other areas where children are present send the wrong message to those in our society who are the most impressionable. In addition, the huge profits generated by these stores, and the value of their inventory, present a danger that the stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children," said Melinda Haag, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. "Although our initial efforts in the Northern District focus on only certain marijuana stores, we will almost certainly be taking action against others. None are immune from action by the federal government."

Dozens of letters have been sent over the past few days to the owners and lienholders of properties where commercial marijuana stores and grows are located. In the Southern and Eastern Districts, the owners of buildings where marijuana stores operate have received letters warning that they risk losing their property and money derived from renting the space used for marijuana sales. In the Central District, where more than 1,000 stores are currently operating, prosecutors have sent letters to property owners in selected cities where officials have requested federal assistance, and they plan to continue their enforcement actions in other cities as well. In the Northern District, owners and lienholders of marijuana stores operating near schools and other locations where children congregate have been warned that their operations are subject to enhanced penalties and that real property involved in the operations is subject to seizure and forfeiture to the United States.

In the Central District and Eastern District, prosecutors this week filed a total of seven civil forfeiture complaints against properties where landlords are knowingly allowing marijuana stores to operate. One complaint filed against a south Orange County strip mall, for example, alleges that eight of the 11 second-floor suites in the buildings are occupied by marijuana stores and that one small city has spent nearly $600,000 in legal fees in its attempt to eradicate the illegal operations.

Criminal cases recently unsealed across the state reveal marijuana operations that produce huge profits, send their money and illegal narcotics to other states, and market products to young people. In a case involving a now-closed marijuana store in the San Fernando Valley, two conspirators allegedly used encrypted smartphones to coordinate marijuana sales to places as far away as New York and estimated that they would each receive $194,000 in profits per month. In a San Diego dispensary case unsealed last week, six defendants were charged in a 77-count indictment that alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy that included numerous marijuana sales to under-aged persons.

"The DEA and our partners are committed to attacking large-scale drug trafficking organizations, including those that attempt to use state or local law to shield their illicit activities from federal law enforcement and prosecution," said Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. "Congress has determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug and that its distribution and sale is a serious crime. It also provides a significant source of revenue for violent gangs and drug organizations. The DEA will not look the other way while these criminal organizations conduct their illicit schemes under the false pretense of legitimate business."

"IRS-Criminal Investigation is proud to work with our law enforcement partners and lend its financial expertise to this effort, "said Victor S.O. Song, Chief, IRS-Criminal Investigation. "We will continue to use the federal asset forfeiture laws to take the profits from criminal enterprises."

Across California, the federal government will continue to investigate and prosecute those whose actions not only violate federal laws, but also the state laws regarding the use of marijuana. The problems associated with the marijuana business have dramatically increased over the past two years, even in areas where local governments and citizens actively oppose these businesses.

The statewide coordinated enforcement actions were announced this morning at a press conference in Sacramento.

# # #


Central District of California (Los Angeles)

Thom Mrozek - thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov

O: (213) 894-6947 M: (213) 494-9261

Southern District of California (San Diego)

Debra Hartman - debra.hartman@usdoj.gov

O: (619) 557-5275

Eastern District of California (Sacramento and Fresno)

Lauren Horwood - lauren.horwood@usdoj.gov

O: (916) 554-2706 M: (916) 761-2706

Northern District of California (San Francisco)

Jack Gillund - Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov

O: (415) 436-6599

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This two part plan is the only action the citizens of the US need to take to end federal marijuana prohibition:1) EVERYONE that sees these links sign up at both sites and weigh in on the debate- http://pvox.co/CdiFqY- http://wh.gov/gDQ2) Propagate those two links and ensure that everyone that sees them go to both those sites.

Too many people are blaming the President for enforcing the federal marijuana prohibition. Contact Congress (the LEGISLATIVE branch [that's the important one when it comes to law]) via the first link. Contact Obama (the EXECUTIVE branch [until Obama vetos a passed H.R. 2306 it's on Congress - but tell Obama anyway]) via the second link. It really is THAT easy. Participate in democracy!

Irvine Homes
Irvine Homes

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filthy assistant
filthy assistant

"[T]he stores will become a magnet for crime, which jeopardizes the safety of nearby children"?  Really?  That's not what the RAND study -- http://www.rand.org/news/press... -- said.  Instead of publicly clutching ones pearls about what the evil reefer will do to The Children(TM), howza'bout worrying about keeping those kids fed and their education worth the paper the report cards are printed on?  THAT will do more to keep kids on a productive path than simply wagging the "no no" finger at them.



Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Join my church. 


although it kind of pisses me of, they did serve only 15 out of like 300 dispensaries.

I wonder if these who got the notice are playing lose with the rules?

at any rate, the thing that I don't like about dispensaries, is that if they are open a patient cannot grow their own.  that stuff is expensive to buy, if you need relief you'll probably be consuming a lot.

it costs to much if you cannot GYO.


Just about every politician is a douchebag when it comes to the legalization of drugs. Simply because of the propaganda of social conservatives, christians, and the DEA. The DEA being guilty of similar tactics as "Reefer Madness." In this day and age it is political suicide to be pro-legalalization as the most scholarly and best studies on the subject are being ignored by most people who swallow those against legalizations propagandist rhetoric. I just read through much of the DEAs website and was apalled at the outright falsehoods, lies and ignoring top advice and even many studies that the govt financed it self.

Though I am no fan of obama, he has done more for the cause of legalization than any other president and you can bet that if a republican is elected all the forward movement made over the last decade will probably be erased. Obama knows this is a hot button issue and he will go down if he is successfully painted as pro-drugs.

I don't like it but until I am presented with evidence that proves otherwise, I am sticking to my guns on this subject.


Obama is a pragmatist: not a socialist, not a progressive, but a pragmatist.  I hope this occupy wall street thing doesn't get co-opted by the unions and the dems, and I hope it finds some meaty substance, otherwise we are doomed to at least four more years of two parties, one malaise.  


Obama is such a douchebag.  This is exactly what he said he would NOT do.


the high cost of dispensary marijuana is ridiculous and is nothing more than the owners gouging customers for money. The reasons for legalizing marijuana for medical reasons included makiking easier and ot illegal to obtain and also to be able to get it at a reasonable price since the illegal factor uneceesarily inflated the price of a plant/weed that is relatively easy to grow by someone in the know. Dispensaries now are charging as much or more than street prices.


Thus far the occupy wall street protest does not look like it is co-optable since so many issues are at the core of the event.

The thing I find interesting is that so many of the protesters are 20 somethings and are flexing their political muscles and expressing that they are fed up with the two party grid lock and as such the two party elections system.

Since these 20 somethings are the ones that most likely will be causing the most change in our govt in the next 30 or so years due to the fact that they feel disinfranchised, stuck in a system that furthers a disparity in wealth, living and life, and are more Internet, tech and media savvy than their predecessors. They are also more open minded and willing to take risks.

A most interesting organization is beginning to grow and make some initial headway in changing the potus election process via the Internet.

Http://www.americanselect.org. is a new organization whose web site allows one to choose the issues that are important to you, decide the debates, choose your candidate and vote for your chosen official all online. They are working on getting their candidates on the ballot in every state and I say it is a wonderful and smart idea that is welcomed and needed considering the mess we are in and the failure of the two party system.

Check out the site for americans elect . org it is well worth your time.


Obama may be a douchebag but he really doesn't have much choice due to the propaganda of social conservatives, christians, and the DEA that has created an atmosphere of almost certain political suicide for any top political candidate to come out as pro drug legalization. Doing so would make it easy to spoonfeed those that swallow the crap of the fringe right wing with antidrug propaganda much like they swallow the rhetoric of arpaio, brewer, thomas, and pearce, and paint obama as pro-drug legalizer. Obama, more than likely, realizes that legalization is probably the most logical direction to move in but in this political atmosphere and with his low poll ratings he can't afford to alienate the independent voters that lean more to the right on social conservative issues. Thus I see this as the most likely motive for these actions.

Now as far as this being a logical reason not to vote for obama as the lesser of two evils in the next potus election, I do not consider it so because if mccain/palin had won the last election or if one of the republicans wins the next, what do you think is going to happen? Of course, either would or will roll back any advances made thus far and we would probably find medical marijuana patients and caregivers being arrested, or at least the caregivers as there is no way the social conservatives will allow anyone to legally distribute marijuana. Obama has done the best he can realistically do without forfeitting the election. Now if obama wins his next term, he pretty damn well do what he thinks is right and push the issue as far forward as he possibly can, this would definitely put him in the history books if he was successful.

Unless anyone can come up with solid evidence or a logical and rational alternative backed up by peer reviewed studies and common sense, I won't be changing my tune on this but I always say "never say never" so you are welcome to try.


Does he even have a rats chance in hell of winning the republican primary... I doubt it.

I just wonder if the lid will ever be blown off all the propaganda the politicians, social conservatives and the dea utilize to spread their lies about marijuana and legalization. It will happen eventually as the aged senators and congressman die off but I was really hoping that it would happen in my life time and it is looking worse, esp if a republican is elected potus.

Seedy Ward
Seedy Ward

To be fair, dispensaries have higher overhead than black market dealers. In addition to real estate costs, they have payroll, taxes, and other expenses. In many places they have high licensing fees as well. Black market operators have mainly growing expenses, attorney fees, and bail funds to worry about.

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