Cal NORML Release – Oct 5, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO – In yet another attack by the Obama administration on medical marijuana, US Attorneys in California have sent out a series of letters threatening landlords with property forfeiture for renting their property to dispensaries deemed too close to “sensitive areas” such as schools and parks.

Prominent among the targets is the state’s longest-operating dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax, which enjoys official support from the city and has been operating without complaint since July 3rd, 1996. In a threatening letter to MAMM’s landlord, the US Attorney for Northern California warned that MAMM was operating within a “prohibited distance of a park.” It goes on to warn the landlord that he could be liable for imprisonment of up to 40 years, forfeiture of the property, and forfeiture of all rental proceeds from the last 15 years for violating federal law if MAMM isn’t evicted.

Other dispensary landlords in the state have received threatening federal letters for operating too close to schools, even though they are abiding with state regulations. Under state law, dispensaries are forbidden to operate within 600 feet of schools, the same distance as
liquor stores. However, a federal law, Title 21 USC 860, imposes additional penalties for sales or distribution of controlled substances within 1,000 feet of schools, colleges, playgrounds, and a host of other areas; the law was originally intended to prevent drug dealing at schools, but is being used by US Attorneys to harass otherwise inoffensive collectives. The Marin Alliance is sited within 1,000 feet of Bolinas Park, where there is a little league
playground; the dispensary closes during little league games.

“This is nuts,” says Greg Anton, attorney for the Marin Alliance and its director, Lynnette Shaw. “There’s a dispensary near where I live that sells guns, narcotics, alcohol and tobacco and it’s full of children. It’s called Walmart, and it’s safe. So is Lynnette’s place. She’s proven that over 15 years.”

California NORML denounced the DOJ action as an example of unwarranted federal overregulation. “It’s an outrageous abuse of law enforcement resources for the DOJ to use property forfeiture to enforce meddlesome, nanny-state regulations,” said Cal NORML Director
Dale Gieringer. “The federal government has no business dictating local zoning decisions. No one has any problems with the Marin Alliance except the bureaucrats in Washington.”

The federal crackdown is the latest of a series of actions by the Obama administration aimed at harassing and crippling state- recognized medical marijuana distributors. The IRS has assessed crippling penalties on tax-paying dispensaries by denying standard expense deductions; the Department of Treasury has browbeaten banks into closing accounts of medical marijuana clients; and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms BATF has warned firearms dealers to treat medical marijuana patients like drug addicts and forbid them from buying guns.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has continued to block federal approval of medical marijuana. The DEA recently rejected a nine-year- old petition to reschedule marijuana for medical use, disregarding scores of scientific studies that have shown marijuana’s efficacy.
In its reply, the DEA claimed that it would only accept large-scale, controlled FDA trials. In a Catch-22, however, the DEA has deliberately blocked such trials from happening by refusing to
approve the licensing of a private production facility to supply marijuana for medical research and development at the University of Massachusetts. The only existing legal source for research marijuana in the country is the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which recently blocked a request to study marijuana for treatment of PTSD and has said that it has no intention of developing its marijuana for medical use.

The federal government’s failure to allow medical use of marijuana remains an unwarranted source of confusion, frustration, and legal problems for patients, providers, public officials and law enforcement alike. The administration’s war on dispensaries also threatens to have adverse economic impacts on jobs and tax revenues. Cal NORML estimates that the state’s medical marijuana industry now accounts for some $1.5 – 4.5 billion in sales, tens of thousands jobs, and over $100 million in taxes. “In this time of economic hardship, it makes absolutely no sense to drive legal medical marijuana providers out of business, force consumers onto the criminal market, and suppress this economical alternative to more costly but less efficacious prescription medicines,” says Gieringer.

Cal NORML urges supporters to call on the administration to end the federal attack on state medical marijuana laws and reschedule marijuana for medical use. White House Hotline: 202-456-1111. Two online petitions can be signed here AND here.

Congressional bills to fix medical marijuana laws include the “States’ Medical Marijuana Protection Act, HR 1983 [Rep. Frank]; the “Ending Prohibition Act” HR 2306 [Frank], the Small Business Banking Improvement Act HR 1984 [Polis] and/or the Small Business Equity Tax Act HR 1985 [Stark].

Contact: Dale Gieringer (510) 540-1066 [email protected]

Also see: KGO – ABC Report:
Feds target pot clubs located too close to schools
Updated at 06:52 PM today
By Vic Lee
Watch video story (3:14)

Feds Target Calif. Pot Dispensaries
by The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO October 6, 2011, 04:20 pm ET

Feds threaten California medical marijuana dispensaries with prosecution
By Peter Hecht
[email protected]
Published: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 – 1:40 pm
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011 – 2:18 pm

Landlords, property owners are new targets in anti-pot strategy
October 6, 2011 | Andrew Becker and Michael Montgomery

UPDATE 10/6 2:30 PM – Cal NORML has heard from reliable media sources that the US Attorney’s office plans to send forfeiture notices to the landlords of ALL San Diego dispensaries. Also a rumor was received about DEA agents being in Vallejo to crack down on clubs there.

The Marin Alliance Family has organized “The Jam for Justice” benefit for the MAMM Legal Defense Fund on Saturday, Nov. 5th, 2011 at 19 Broadway Niteclub in Fairfax.

The event starts at High Noon and features well known Bay Area musical acts Moonalice, The Rowan Brothers Band, Terry Haggerty and Friends, along with Bluesetta Band, Bird Leg Jazz,  plus Samuka and His Wild Tribe.

The benefit will be hosted by the Hollywood Hemptress, comic Tere Joyce. King of BBQ Joe will be serving Louisiana BBQ from noon to 4:20 pm in the Niteclub parking lot. Raffles will be held throughout the event for numerous prizes and memorabilia, featuring the grand prize of a “Fairfax Dream Date Weekend”.  

UPDATE Oct. 6, 4:52 PM



SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The United States Attorneys for the four federal districts in California will outline actions targeting the sale, distribution and cultivation of marijuana in California at a press conference in Sacramento on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2011, at 11:00 A.M. PDT.

WHO:      Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney in Sacramento

Melinda L. Haag, U.S. Attorney in San Francisco

André Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles

Laura E. Duffy, U.S. Attorney in San Diego


11:00 A.M. PDT

WHERE: Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse

501 I Street, Suite 10-100

Sacramento, Calif.

(Parking available across the street at the Amtrak Station.)

NOTE: All media must present government-issued photo I.D. (such as a driver’s license), as well as valid MEDIA CREDENTIALS. Media must arrive to begin security screening no later than 10:30 a.m.

Feds to outline plans today for shutting down Calif. pot shops
Oct 07, 2011
By Michael Winter, USA TODAY

Feds’ New Crackdown on Medical Marijuana
Justice Department orders the evictions of four Bay Area pot dispensaries
By ZUSHA ELINSON on October 6, 2011 – 6:31 p.m. PDT

Feds seek closure of medical marijuana dispensaries
By Greg Moran and Christopher Cadelago
Sign on San Diego
1:40 p.m., Oct. 6, 2011

California NORML, a long-standing advocacy group for medical
marijuana, denounced the action of federal prosecutors as a cowardly
example of unwarranted over-regulation.

“Apparently the federal government would rather destroy an industry
that’s employing tens of thousands of people and creating hundreds of
millions of dollars in legal tax revenues to save face on a bankrupt
policy that the American people don’t even support – namely denying
the medical value of marijuana,” Cal NORML Director Dale Gieringer said.

Feds target California pot dispensaries
Posted: 12:54 pm PDT October 6, 2011
Updated: 9:35 pm PDT October 6, 2011

Feds Target $1 Billion California Medical Marijuana Industry
October 07, 2011, 4:40 PM EDT
By Michael B. Marois and Christopher Palmeri
Bloomberg/Business Week

“There are literally tens of thousands of legal jobs that have been created by the medical-marijuana industry in California,” said Dale Gieringer, who runs the California office of NORML, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Stay Informed! Join California NORML’s Email Alert List