Feds explain medical marijuana crackdown

October 8, 2011

Federal prosecutors announced Friday that they’re using property seizures and criminal charges to crack down on California’s commercial medical marijuana dispensaries.

The top U.S. prosecutors in California said their enforcement effort “is aimed at curtailing the large, for-profit marijuana industry that has developed since the passage of California’s Proposition 215 in 1996,” the referendum that made California the first state to permit marijuana use for medical purposes.

“While California law permits collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances, it does not allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across California,” said Andre Birotte, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, at Friday’s press conference.

Prosecutors said they would not be targeting truly sick people or those producing marijuana for people they are caring for as long as they have been following proper guidelines.

“Large commercial operations cloak their money-making activities in the guise of helping sick people when in fact they are helping themselves, said Benjamin B. Wagner, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California. “Our interest is in enforcing federal criminal law, not prosecuting seriously sick people and those who are caring for them.

“We are making these announcements together today so that the message is absolutely clear that commercial marijuana operations are illegal under federal law, and that we will enforce federal law.”

As part of the coordinated effort, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles said they “have taken a series of actions against illegal commercial marijuana operations, including a building in South Orange County that houses eight marijuana stores and a trafficking ring that sold marijuana at its San Fernando Valley storefront, and sent marijuana to customers as far away as New York state.”

This weeks Los Angeles crack down included the arrests of six people who allegedly generated nearly $15 million in profits in only eight months for marijuana trafficking, the civil forfeiture of three commercial properties and a related seizure of more than $135,000 from the bank account of one property owner.

In addition to the criminal case and the forfeiture actions, the United States Attorney’s Office sent dozens of letters Thursday to people affiliated with 38 marijuana stores in selected cities across southern California.

Those receiving letters – the owners of the buildings where the stores are allowed to operate, as well as some owners of the illegal stores – are warned that the stores are operating in violation of federal law and that they have two weeks to “take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana” at the stores or risk losing their property.


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28 Comments

  1. MaryMalone says:

    “While California law permits collective cultivation of marijuana in limited circumstances, it does not allow commercial distribution through the store-front model we see across California,” said Andre Birotte, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, at Friday’s press conference.

    The U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles can go frack himself with a pointed instrument.

    Sales need to be in an environment that is well-lit, secure, and accessible to the public.

    I’m telling you, we cannot ignore the fact that Obama’s government is ensuring that the only people who have access to mj for ANY reason, including health reasons, are those with a lot of money who can pay a go-fer to go fetch it illegally, or those who can’t afford a go-fer who are so desperate they will risk going into criminal operations to gain the medical relief they need.

    They are also ensuring that the cost of mj remains under the control of drug-running criminals.

    (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  2. godislanguage says:

    Sooooo, now the government War on Drugs campaign slogan is “Commerical Medical Marijuana” is profiting. If the CA’s U.S. District Attorneys were serious about correcting the alleged “commercial medical marijuana” activities, all they need to do is audit the collectives. But they are LYING!!! Let the IRS or State Board of Equalization deal with it. U.S. District Attorney’s should be spending their time investigating all the banking fraud that’s been going on, that’s where the recent significant crimes against our society have occured. All those fraudulent home buy’s and refi’s on stated incomes, etc…you know who they are.

    Just because there’s money in the bank, doesn’t mean they’re profiting. Publish the best practices of Medical Marijuana Accounting and the collectives will comply, else they get a complete audit. But, medical anything is exempt from taxes, its an accepted law in this state and I believe in all others as it should be, since it relieves suffering.

    Maybe the banks and the credit card companies are pissed off too, since collectives operate on a cash basis. Heavens forbid the rest of society figuring out how to go to be on cash only basis.

    They’re not going this route because as others posted Big Pharma, endorsed by the AMA, profits are at stake.

    Get over that “stoners” are getting rich, whilst drinking your Coors Light or Bacardi and Coke or sipping your glass of Pinot Noir. So what if some use it for anxiety relief….there’s a whole lot of idiots out there thanks to the dumbing down of our society that people have to deal with. Combine that with the INSANE amount of government. Think of all the poor souls being programmed as POINT of SALE drones…..

    Ohhh….maybe corporations in general want it abolished to control the subordinate class.

    Just like I have a desire to inflict great bodily harm whilst eating too many double quarter with cheese, large fries and a diet coke combo’s….I enjoy it for all the physical work that I do…it’s my carrot and who ever wants to take my carrot, my teeth are sharp!!! CHOMP, CHOMP!!

    Again, CA’s U.S. District Attorney’s should focus on criminal banking fraud not on the “Commercial Medical Marijuana”.

    It’s time to listen to the waterfall….

    (7) 11 Total Votes - 9 up - 2 down
  3. standup says:

    Big pharma is pushing their agenda right before our eyes. Marijuana is a totally viable threat to them. People can produce it themselves and not give a dime to the greedy corporate snakes. In the 2009 elections alone, big pharma donated some 30 million to campaign funds. That is sick. Using their profits made from us to turn around and screw us. They have bribed the president to the point that he has committed perjury to the general public. Obama, the pos, illegal alien, lying sob, doesn’t give a crap about patients. I wonder how someone who is bed stricken and has had a care provider go to a dispensary and get meds is supposed to do that now. If you don’t grow or know somebody who does, you are shit out of luck. Even then it is still illegal to purchase from that person. In fact, that person can’t even give it to you unless you are a member of his/her collective. However, the whole collective concept is being ripped apart by the federal assholes. This will effectively kill at least 10-15,000 jobs in the state that the feds can pay unemployment on. This will eliminate 100 million plus in tax revenue to the state. Where are our state representatives who should be standing up for us? This is becoming a violation of the tenth amendment and the feds are overstepping their bounds. A revolution is coming in this country whether we like it or not. It will be the masses against the few. We have to get this sob out of office now.

    (11) 19 Total Votes - 15 up - 4 down
  4. asthecrowphlies says:

    REVISED–READ THIS ONE NOT THE 11: 18 PM VERSION

    THIS MAYBE THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN LEADING TO A MORE LIBERAL POT DISTRIBUTION AND /OR LEGALIZATION .. It appears the Feds just want to clean-up the illegal businesses that are dealing in things like racketeering and tax evasion . This maybe a shock to some of you but if you want pot to be an open and a main stream commodity , then those involved must act like a main stream participant , by following the true spirit of prop. 215 rules and PAYING YOUR TAXES . It is only my opinion , I think we should pick a way we want to regulate it ( like tobacco or cigarettes .. whatever ! ) , then treat it like vegetables . You can grow it in your garden , buy it in the produce section or farmers market or at CVS and the heck with license , registration and pot cards . This would also stop all the arguing over big phama and cartels controlling and cashing in on pot . Still a lot of people will NOT use pot and that’s great , but then again lots of people eat vegetables .

    (16) 20 Total Votes - 18 up - 2 down
    • Cindy says:

      “must act like a main stream participant , by following the true spirit of prop. 215 rules and PAYING YOUR TAXES”

      What? According to prop 215 and the CA AG, people are not allowed to earn a profit on medical marijuana. They can not charge for their time to grow or trim it. They can only recoup their expenses and break even on what it actually costs them out of pocket. I’m sure the IRS won’t mind someone claiming they are earning a profit and paying the taxes on it but paying taxes on MM profits is like admitting that you’re breaking the law!

      The dispensaries initially tried to get around this by charging membership fees to their club’s. Club members were allowed to receive (free of charge) a certain amount of MM each month.
      The State busted them.

      Dispensaries also tried to charge a consultation fee each time a customer came in for MM. The MM was free with a paid consultation. The State busted them!

      The ATF even busted the local mobile dispensaries without even bothering to see if they were earning a profit, which they were not!! As far as I know, those cases were dropped but I wonder if this latest Federal rampage will place the mobile dispensaries on the “must bust list”?

      (-1) 7 Total Votes - 3 up - 4 down
      • asthecrowphlies says:

        Cindy . I agree with everything you just posted . I also think the law needs to be changed to take
        care of these problems with prop 215 . Then again I think EVERYBODY should be able to grow and eat their own vegetables .

        (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
        • zaphod says:

          Guidelines by city and county

          (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
          • Cindy says:

            WOW, I’m amazed at the disparity between various cities and counties when it comes to weight and # of plants allowed. Some places allow 99 plants and others like SLO County allow the 6 large and 12 small plants.

            Also it’s mind boggling that some cities/counties allow 3 lbs of MM while others like SLO allow 8 oz. It’s one thing to worry about crossing state lines but county and even city lines! I mean really you could cross a city line and go from a honest, upstanding citizen to a drug dealer or something in the flash of an eye.

            Can somebody help me because there are two things that I don’t understand. I noticed that Shasta allows 8oz of MM or 1.33 lbs of “processed bud”. I thought processed bug was hashish. I absolutely don’t get it, as hashish is concentrated and 1.33 lbs is probably like having 5-10 lbs of MM! Go look, that is what Shasta allows according to the link from Zaphord.

            The next thing I don’t get is that 6 mature budding plants are legal but only 8 OZ of MM are allowed. So that means you can’t pick more than 8oz at a time, BUT The plant won’t be any good if it isn’t picked when it’s ready. This just doesn’t make any sense. A crop comes in once a year in the fall and they won’t let anybody pick their years worth of MM!! With the way the law is set up, of course people are going to sneak and hide their years stash. Either that or they will be forced to grow indoors and waste lots of electricity. Ridiculous. These laws are a mess.

            (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        How much do you guess the pharmaceutical companies will charge for the mj synth when it’s ready for marketing?

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • MaryMalone says:

        The irony is that the Obama government is using the excuse of dispensaries making a profit from the sale of mj, when, by harassing the mj production/distribution community legally operating in California, they are ensuring that the most violent drug cartels continue to profit obscenely from the illegal sale of mj.

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Excuse me, but the feds themselves are the biggest racketeers on earth! They have no intention of “cleaning up” anything! They are under orders from the rich and powerful to crack down on competitors, the same as any other self-respecting gangsters would do!

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  5. asthecrowphlies says:

    THIS MAYBE THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN LEADING TO A MORE LIBERAL POT DISTRIBUTION AND /OR LEGALIZATION .. It appears the Feds just want to clean-up the illegal businesses that are dealing in things like racketeering and tax evasion . This maybe a shock to some of you but if you want pot to be an open and a main stream commodity , then those involved must act like a main stream participant , by following the true sprite of prop. 215 rules and PAYING YOUR TAXES . It is only my opinion , we should pick a minimum age that someone can buy pot , then treat it like vegetables . You can grow it in your garden , buy it in the produce section or farmers market and the heck with license and registration . Still a lot of people will not use pot and that’s great , but then again lots of people eat vegetables .

    (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
    • mkaney says:

      Seems to me like it’s raging hypocrisy for the government to claim these people are not playing by the rules, when the weapon they are going to use against them is “civil asset forfeiture” which is often an administrative action rather than something like a jury trial, and allows them to seize property without even filing charges, much less getting a conviction (i.e. not playing by the rule of the 5th amendment), PARTICULARLY when they are attempting to seize the property of the landlord in addition to that of the dispensary.

      (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
      • asthecrowphlies says:

        HI mk . So far I have agreed with 100% of your postings and I do not necessarily disagree with this one . Having some experience with dispensaries It is my opinion that there are a good number of good old fashion classic classroom examples of drug dealers in the business . I believe there are dealers in this county hiding be hide the mask of a dispensary . What the feds say they are going to do and what they actually do may not be the same , time will tell . I am taking the leap of faith that these federal agencies know what they are doing this time , specially the FBI .

        As far as Obama goes , if it were not a possibility that we would need him to appoint a judge to the Supreme Court I would not vote for him as dog catcher . I do not think Obama is dumb enough to try and ban pot in all California . I really believe the feds are just trying to get revenue and take the criminal element out of the dispensaries .

        (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
        • mkaney says:

          Thank you, and I’ve found your posts consistently intelligent. I just have much less faith left than you in the ability of the federal government to do anything right. I also am not bothered by the criminal element in the market. Perhaps it’s a bit cliche but the founding fathers were themselves criminals at one point.

          Considering what Obama has done thus far, why would you still put any faith that his choice of a Supreme Court Justice won’t be someone who perpetuates authoritarian rule? If he did nothing else during his term, it would be worth electing Ron Paul for the purpose of allowing him to select a Justice should the need arise.

          (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
          • asthecrowphlies says:

            You maybe right again . It will be interesting to see how the crack down unfolds . I think I was wrong once in 1957 or was it ” 69 ” . LOL

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
            • asthecrowphlies says:

              Oh , and I thought Pauly Shore in Biosphere was going to be the biggest move ever made . ha ha ha ha ha , Eat your vegetables .

              (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • MaryMalone says:

          You have no assurances of who Obama would appoint to the supremes.

          Obama, by his actions, has shown himself to be a Republican flying the Democratic Party banner.

          Voters often allow a political party to dictate their choice of candidate for a political office with the excuse of “well, it’s the lesser of two evils.”

          What they fail to remember is that the lesser of two evils is still evil.

          (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        mkaney, excellent point. A great book which makes the same case very eloquently is The Tyranny of Good Intentions, by Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence M. Stratton.

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • mkaney says:

          Five years ago the idea that someone in a local news forum would mention the name Paul Craig Roberts would have been ludicrous. My hat is off to thee, as usual.

          (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  6. willie says:

    Right and wrong depends on who say it is
    Legal and illegal depends on who say it is.
    What is made legal and illegal is not always reactive but to gain the public trust and revenue.
    What is made legal (housing/pharmacy drugs ect) and later illegal or made difficult (marijuana/ bankrupsy ect) is proactive to suit the insider’s guarantee to make the mega bucks both going and coming.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  7. Typoqueen says:

    “This weeks Los Angeles crack down included the arrests of six people who allegedly generated nearly $15 million in profits in only eight months”

    It’s such a shame that the cartels will reap more profits and we will be missing out on all that needed tax money.

    (9) 11 Total Votes - 10 up - 1 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Indeed. I’ve questioned for awhile the extent in which our government is involved in the drug trade coming across the border.

      Our government won’t commit enough resources to help stem the tide of nearly apocalyptic violence coming across our southern border, from Latin America. They send our soldiers, troops and reserves half-way across the world and subject them to horrific violence–and repeated tours of duty, at that. The distance away makes it impossible for these overseas Americans in the military to come home for weekend leaves, and so their families must go months without being with them. We are spending obscene amounts of our resources on the middle east wars, which are nothing but testimony to the failure of the foreign policy leadership of our country.

      The way the pattern is shaping up, I believe this may be part of a larger plan.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  8. Fedup says:

    Screw the US government.

    (2) 12 Total Votes - 7 up - 5 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      …with somebody else’s johnson. Don’t want any of my male friends getting infected from the government whores.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  9. mkaney says:

    The market provides the most humane distribution of resources of any model we currently can conceptualize. To crack down on someone selling a legitimate product to consumers who voluntarily choose to purchase that product, simply because they are making a profit, violates basic American principles.

    This is how we wind up with a financial system that cannot sustain itself. Because the government, not the market, chooses who the winners and losers are. It is not a lack of regulation that caused the bank collapse, it is the manipulation of the money supply that caused an artificial bubble to begin with.

    Meanwhile the FDA approves drugs that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths yearly. Some of those drugs can be qualified as medicine, but just as many of them can be considered drugs which alter people’s senses to improve their quality of life. The same can be said of marijuana, whether you agree with that or not should NOT matter, that is a purely subjective matter. Adverse drug reactions, from LEGAL drugs, are the fourth leading cause of death in this country. Marijuana has killed ZERO people from ADRs.

    I find it odd that so many of the same people who congratulate our military for fighting for our freedom, or who believe that Muslims hate us for our freedom, are the same people who would seek to take away the freedom of their fellow Americans. Many of those same people drink alcohol, and during prohibition many people who were later admired were bootleggers (e.g. Joe Kennedy). There is nothing that is more threatening to freedom than a hypocrite. I also find it odd that the U.S. Government felt the need to pass a constitutional amendment to make alcohol illegal, but after that it was fair game under some obviously flawed ruling of the Supreme Court on the tenth amendment.

    (18) 24 Total Votes - 21 up - 3 down
    • mkaney says:

      I know this has all been said before. But it’s always worth saying it again in the off chance that one more person will actually READ it and think about instead of formulating their response after the first couple of sentences.

      (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down

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