At a meeting on Tuesday in Sacramento with California district attorneys, including Mono County, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California talked about federal law enforcement of medical marijuana dispensaries. The report from the meeting sounds like federal attorneys may try to close down what they call “commercial marijuana operations.”
In a press release from Mono DA George Booth and his Assistant Tim Kendall, they state that the U.S. Attorney’s long standing position is in enforcing “federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people” and their caregivers. The release says the federal attorneys have no intention of interfering with medical marijuana patient rights or their legal access to medical marijuana. But, according to the Mono press release, the federal lawyers do intend to interfere with what they call commercial marijuana operations, including marijuana grows, marijuana stores and mobile delivery services.
The Mono press release says that in the opinion of the U.S. Attorney, these are “all activities that are illegal and generate huge profits and are no more than criminal enterprises.” The release does not say whether the U.S. Attorney will close down all dispensaries. Assistant DA Kendall said he does not have an answer on that question. He did say the DA has no jurisdiction to enforce federal law.
The Mono press release does list three main areas of enforcement action. They are letters of warning to owners and property holders that their marijuana activity is illegal and subjects them to further action if continued. Letters of warning will also go to municipalities that sanction or permit such marijuana activities. The U.S. Attorney will also use civil forfeiture lawsuits against properties involved in such marijuana activity and they will criminally prosecute individuals dealing in such marijuana activities.
The Mono release goes on to say that “The U.S. Attorney’s position is that those within the California medical marijuana industry that are making large profits, selling or trafficking, are operating beyond the medical marijuana laws, and it is no longer about providing medicine to the seriously sick but is a pervasive for-profit industry that violates federal law.”
Booth and Kendall say that each U.S. Attorney will look within their districts to determine whether such activities violate federal law. In Mammoth Lakes, where citizens voted to allow two medical marijuana dispensaries, one of them has already closed in the face of apparent enforcement. That was Green Mammoth owned by Steve Klassen. The other dispensary, Mammoth Lakes Wellness, remained open at last word.