SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

In an escalation of the ongoing conflict between the U.S. government and the nation’s burgeoning medical marijuana industry, California’s s four U.S. attorneys sent letters Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 pot shops or their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The attorneys are scheduled to announce their coordinated crackdown at a Friday news conference.

Their offices refused to confirm the closure orders. The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to 12 San Diego dispensaries. They state that federal law “takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana.”

“Under United States law, a dispensary’s operations involving sales and distribution of marijuana are illegal and subject to criminal prosecution and civil enforcement actions,” letters signed by U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy in San Diego read. “Real and personal property involved in such operations are subject to seizure by and forfeiture to the United States … regardless of the purported purpose of the dispensary.”

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana following a two-year period during which federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors’ recommendations.

The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws. The effort to shutter California dispensaries appears to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.

“This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Administration is simply making good on multiple threats issued since President Obama took office,” Kevin Sabet, a former adviser to the president’s drug czar who is a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Substance Abuse Solutions. “The challenge is to balance the scarcity of law enforcement resources and the sanctity of this country’s medication approval process. It seems like the Administration is simply making good on multiple statements made previously to appropriately strike that balance.”

Greg Anton, a lawyer who represents a Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana, said the 14-year-old dispensary’s landlord received an “extremely threatening” letter Wednesday invoking a federal law that imposes additional penalties for selling drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds.

The landlord was ordered to evict the pot club or risk imprisonment, plus forfeiture of the property and all the rent he has collected while the dispensary has been in business, Anton said.

The Marin Alliance’s founder “has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks,” he said. “All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget, but he has money to do this which will actually reduce revenues.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBSSan Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (53)
  1. Bob M says:

    So the drug cartels in Mexico, have found a way to bride U.S. Attorneys.

    1. caretaker says:

      No Shi* – You are right Bob, next in a year…the Feds will regulate dispensaries….

      1. Ford says:

        Why would they bother regulating when they can simply eliminate.

  2. boil says:

    we are definitly living in bizzaro world… yet not one bankster has been charged… time to join the protesters.

  3. DEC says:

    Our to our disconnected politicians (Rep’s and Dem’s) just don’t get it. It is time for the American public to SPEAK OUT. Medical Marijuana advocates should join the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement so our voices are heard.

  4. Marty says:

    The war on drugs is like Prohibition. It’s a miserable failure. Prohibition led to an increase in crime. That’s what’s going on in Mexico. And it’s spilling over here into the US. Marijuana has been proven to be less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. And it has been proven many times that it has medicinal advantages. And industrial ones. California is hoping to legalize hemp for industrial purposes. If we do, we can start to pull our economy out of the toilet. What would the Feddies say about that? What’s more important, their supremacy clause or the economy?

  5. PLW says:

    Prez. Obama is THE ONE!!!!!!! Go to him, or Attorney General Holder if ya got a complaint…. They can do NO WRONG!!!!! HOPE – FAITH – TRANSPARENCY……

    1. Philip Scharfy says:

      Yea — how are the losers going to spin this latest Nobama failure to make it seem the fault of the tea party and bankers.

  6. Mark says:

    What a bunch of bullspit. Obama has proven himself to be a hypocrite, the DEA needs to be shut down (it is a relatively recent agency, created during the Nixon administration), and the DOJ needs a swift kick in the pants. Marijuana is on par with alcohol, and demonstrably LESS harmful. Time to join the 21st century, you dolts!!!

  7. TOMMY CHONG says:




  8. CHEECH says:


    1. Melissa Deel says:

      Time for you to beat yourself in the head because you are an idiot. How is it a free ride?

  9. CHEECH says:

    i was stoned and spell check failed me like pot

    1. Mark says:

      Cheech and Chong, you’re a jacka$$. Go to work with the rest of the tools in the DEA. A little weed might help your outlook, but I think you need some more clinical strength stuff like LSD or mushrooms under a psychiatrist’s supervision..

      1. JOHN says:

        That is what it comes down to, slavery. do to work for the drunk Jew.

    2. tj says:

      That’s because YOU are an idiot and the problem is genetic. Pot cannot help you.

  10. WHOA says:

    Federal involvement is a business. They are justifying their existance and the existance of the blood sucking lawyers and the legal system. This is their way of getting a piece of the action.

  11. scott says:

    Hope and change – wait, no, continue a war on civil liberties and states rights. Way to go hopeless leaders..

    1. JOHN says:

      You hit the nail on the head. The USA has gone all over the world pushing their ideals on the world. The big thing the USA does not understand is the USA has gone around the world killing others in the name of democracy but spreading capitalism. We have killed way more than the 5000 to 6000 people of 9/11 the terrorist killed. How does the USA know they are trying to create terrorism, because we started it.

  12. States Rights Constitution says:

    Of course they wanted to shut it down – the CIA is losing business in California because of the business.

    1. Kevin Wallis says:

      yep, as the saying goes, dont steal, the government hates compitition

  13. Kevin Wallis says:

    its like it says in the story, its ok for them to collect taxes on the sales, even though in the governments eyes its illegal to sell it… hypocrites every one of the governments branches. Time to load your rifles (if they havent taken them from you) the sheets going to hit the fan.

  14. Thomas Jefferson says:


  15. bigkidd says:

    It’s time to reboot this nation!

  16. Maryjane says:

    Amen on that, I can see a civil war coming! We need to stand up for what we believe in. Take it to the streets!

  17. FormerObamaBacker says:

    Prohibition all over again…the will of the people will eventually prevail but I cant believe that in this day and age pot is not legal…you are blowing it big time Obama..I thought at least u would get it right on this subject…you can just add this to your list of failures…not voting for u next time!

    1. elwood says:

      you got that right i wont be voting for obama either legalize pot now

  18. Joe says:

    As usual someone else thinks for me. Thank you for thinking for me I am sure you are far more qualified to live my life than I am. Maybe I should switch to Tequila and Cigarettes which are obviously healthy medicinal choices or keep the pharma execs in swimming pools, mansions, and yachts. For once it would be great if the government actually listened to the people for one. You limit my choice but have no problems taking my money to do that. My biggest bill is taxes.

  19. Bay Area Guy says:

    ONE MORE Obummer failure- How many jobs will this action create Obummer? What a Dip STICK, looser president. Obummer is so far removed from the people he should be removed from office. We THE PEOPLE Voted for Legal Medical marijuana.
    TAxed it and created JOBS to dispense it. We the Poeple will now VOTE in 2012 to remove the guy who challages OUR ( THE PEOPLE) choice. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out Obummer.

    1. elwood says:

      yea obama sure proved to be another rich dumb ass

  20. tj says:

    Yet the monkeys in our governemnt refuse to deport illegal aliens or sue the sanctuary cities. Obama is try to cause unrest so he can declare martial law.

  21. not a stoner says:

    the stoners are crying now….

  22. tj says:

    They should all go to a delivery service and go underground. F–K obama.

  23. sickofthis says:

    Here we go again. The govt. is trying to pick on the sick and the terminally ill because they can’t pick on anyone else. Doesn’t matter what party Demicans or Repulicrats, they are all the same. I do not smoke,but I do have a friend who had Leukemia and it went into remission because of medical dispenseries. Before he started using the dispensaries he was on his death bed. The government has no compassion. They are trying to dodge the real issues.

  24. joe says:

    Two things Eric Holder is tring to act tough becauce of “Fast And furious”. Second wheres Jerry Brown? Telll the feds to stay the heck out of Ca

  25. fantasin says:

    If the Feds have a problem with California Law, they should take it up with the Governor and the State Legislature that enacted the laws, not the law abiding pot providers. This is the same Eric Holder Justice Department that illegally ships guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels. Why have they taken Arizona to court for enforcing existing Federal Immigration Laws, yet they go after law abiding citizens, instead of their fellow Democrat Politicians in California? The Hippocracy boggles my mind.

  26. Andrew Bentley says:

    Barackalypse Now. The Great Hope has turned into a mid-90s Republican.

  27. Mary Jane says:

    Marijuana does not cure cancer nor is it a valid medical treatment. It just gets the patient high. Barely a temporary relief. It’s not even a pain killer.

    That resin in your bowl, there is some in your lungs too. Happy future lung cancer. Especially if you smoke cigs as well as pot. Nevermind inhaling that fine Bay Area car exhaust or sniffing the sewer drains in SF.

    Drink more and there will be less air pollution from second-hand smoke. If I wanted to smell lawn clippings I’d mow the lawn. (If it were emo it might even cut itself!)

    There is no movement when everyone is high. Light up and join the do-nothing revolution with Obama. xD

    Marijuana is the carrot being dangled in front of the faces of the addicted to keep them under control. Mellow out, man! xD

    1. elwood says:

      mary jane go change your tampon i think its full of brain matter you dumb ass wake up