DOJ Not Backing Off Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
In a letter to the City Attorney of Oakland last month, CA, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag "clarified" the Justice Department's position on federal prosecution involving medical marijuana, and specifically, cultivation authorized by state or municipal law.
The Oakland City Attorney had asked for guidance on Oakland's Medical Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance. U.S. Attorney Haag responds that DOJ is familiar with Oakland's solicitation of applications for permits to operate "industrial cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities" pursuant to Oakland Ordinance No. 13033 (Oakland Ordinance)." After consulting with the Attorney General, she says she is writing to clarify DOJ's position:
The prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department. This core priority includes prosecution of business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana.
Accordingly, while the Department does not focus its limited resources on seriously ill individuals who use marijuana as part of a medically recommended treatment regimen in compliance with state law as stated in the October 2009 Ogden Memorandum, we will enforce the CSA vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law. The Department's investigative and prosecutorial resources will continue to be directed toward these objectives. (my emphasis)
Haag says the feds are ready to spring into action:
The Department is concerned about the Oakland Ordinance's creation of a licensing scheme that permits large-scale industrial marijuana cultivation and manufacturing as it authorizes conduct contrary to federal law and threatens the federal government's efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing, and trafficking of controlled substances. Accordingly, the Department is carefully considering civil and criminal legal remedies regarding those who seek to set up industrial marijuana growing warehouses in Oakland pursuant to licenses issued by the City of Oakland, Individuals who elect to operate "industrial cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities" will be doing so in violation of federal law. (my emphasis)
Haag also warns those who facilitate cultivation businesses:
Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law. Potential actions the Department is considering include injunctive actions to prevent cultivation and distribution of marijuana and other associated violations of the CSA; civil fines; criminal prosecution; and the forfeiture of any property used to facilitate a violation of the CSA. As the Attorney General has repeatedly stated, the Department of Justice remains fully committed to enforcing the CSA in all states. (my emphasis)
(Received by e-mail from Cannabis Therapy Institute.)
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