The medical marijuana community has been abuzz for the past month over raids, criminal charges, arrests and warning letters from the state district attorneys who are demanding that they cease their actions immediately.
Marijuana collectives across the state are scrambling to fight back against the four California-based U.S. District Attorneys' efforts to shut them down, and according to a press release from U.S. Attorney's Office Public Affairs Office, Laguna Niguel's may be right in their crosshairs.
The press release says that:
“All known marijuana stores in the following areas are being sent letters warning that their operations are in violation of federal law:
- Orange County - the cities of Lake Forest, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, and Rancho Santa Margarita;
- Riverside County – the cities of Murrieta, Wildomar, and Temecula; and
- Inland Empire – the cities of Pomona, Claremont, Upland, Montclair, and Chino.”
What Steps are the U.S. Attorney's Office Taking?
Mrozek says that the U.S. Attorney's office are taking a three-pronged approach to stopping what it perceives as criminal activity:
- Criminal indictment that charges six people with marijuana trafficking that allegedly generated nearly $15 million in profits in only eight months;
- The filing of civil forfeiture lawsuits against three properties and a related seizure of more than $135,000 from the bank account of one property owner; and
- Warning letters sent to the operators and landlords of 38 marijuana stores.
Why the Crackdowns?
Mrozek gave an example of a property owner creating what the public might perceive as a public nuisance.
“There is one strip mall in Lake Forest that houses seven medical marijuana collectives,” said Mrozek.
Mrozek also pointed out the fact that many facilities make a profit, which is not only a violation of federal law, but also a violation of state law. The Senate Bill ironically named SB 420 requires all medical marijuana collectives to be non-profit organizations.
Mrozek says that not only are some collective owners making a profit, but in some cases, an arguably obscene one as can be demonstrated by the civil forfeiture lawsuits that are taking place.
What Are the Collectives Doing to Fight Back?
The Americans for Safe Access has stepped in to help medical marijuana collectives across the state. The ASA has filed lawsuits in federal courts in San Diego, Sacramento, and Los Angeles to block efforts by the U.S. Attorneys to crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries.
There is also a petition, currently circulating, that seeks to out and out legalize marijuana across the state under the same production rules as alcohol—namely grape growing for wine. The petition—named Regulate Marijuana Like Wine—also demands that the state cease to cooperate with federal authorities in their efforts against marijuana production in the state.
It looks like California's battle over marijuana will only be heating up over the next few months.