California recognizes the rights of individuals who have a medical need for medicinal marijuana. These individuals have been permitted to purchase medical marijuana from licensed marijuana dispensaries if they have a recommendation from a physician. Likewise, California allows the distribution of medicinal marijuana by these licensed dispensaries. Yet, the Federal Government refuses to acknowledge these rights and are prosecuting cases against individuals who run medical marijuana dispensaries. These prosecutions are becoming more and more frequent.
Just this week, the United States Attorney’s office in the Central District of California Indicted 14 individuals charging them with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and Maintain a Drug Involved Business, in other words, medical marijuana dispensaries or collectives. The individuals charged were allegedly involved in 9 marijuana dispensaries located in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
The indictment alleges that these individuals collectively distributed at least 1,000 kilograms of marijuana beginning on a date unknown and continuing until November 2011 when the Orange County Sheriff’s Department executed search warrants and seized the alleged contraband. The amount alleged makes the mandatory minimum sentence on this case ten years.
Although no police reports have been disclosed yet, it is presumed that these business were legally run according to California law. The U.S. Attorney’s office started their attack on marijuana dispensaries about a year ago when they started sending letters to landlords who rented to individuals who ran dispensaries threatening them with forfeiture of their property if they did not evict these tenants. Apparently, they decided to get more aggressive and they are now prosecuting the dispensary owners, managers and employees.
Where do we draw the line between the rights of the states to enforce their own laws and the rights of the federal government to swoop in and enforce federal law that is contrary to the state law?
In any event, a word to the wise, if you own, run, work in or frequent a medical marijuana dispensary or collective, you could be next. Don’t take any chances. It’s time to close up shop! If you or someone you know is involved in one of these cases you will need an experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you. Please call the Law Office of Diane C. Bass.