In several West Coast cities, federal officials are initiating a new round of crackdowns against dispensaries that are seemingly complying with state medical marijuana law. In Seattle, 11 dispensaries received shutdown warnings. In San Francisco, almost half of the city’s small number of state-licensed dispensaries received similar warnings. And in neighboring cities like San Jose, several others were warned.
The cease-and-desist letters from the Drug Enforcement Administration warn harsh federal punishment, including as much as 40 years in jail even for landlords that rent to marijuana dispensaries. They also warn that they if properties do not cease marijuana activity within 30 days, the agency will pursue what’s known as civil forfeiture, in which the federal government threatens to seize the facility and other assets if the marijuana business continues. For those who are renting space, this means the landlord is effectively asked to evict its marijuana tenant — a process that has proved difficult, as state and federal courts handling eviction proceedings resist this federal intervention.
This is not the first round of crackdowns in any of these cities, which have forced shutdowns of dispensaries considered “models” in their community, or festered in prolonged legal battles. But these crackdowns are particularly symbolic, because they come en masse, in the wake of ballot initiatives in November to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in two states, and because they are being executed post-sequester, even as prominent law enforcement officials like Attorney General Eric Holder have warned that the blunt cuts threaten public safety. Polls since the November ballot initiatives found that a majority of Americans now support marijuana legalization, and that an even greater percentage think the states should decide whether marijuana is legal.
– Read the entire article at Think Progress.