DEA Tells 23 MMJ Storefronts To Shut Down

Aug 25, 2012

The Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion mailed let­ters Thurs­day to 23 med­ical mar­i­juana busi­nesses in West­ern Wash­ing­ton, warn­ing they could be pros­e­cuted and the prop­er­ties seized if they are oper­at­ing within a school zone. “Please take the nec­es­sary steps to dis­con­tinue the sale and/or dis­tri­b­u­tion of marijuana…within 30 days,” read the let­ter, signed by Matthew G. Barnes, spe­cial agent in charge of the Seat­tle office. Nei­ther the DEA nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which sup­ported the action, would release the names of the 23 dis­pen­saries or dis­close which cities they’re located in. Barnes said in a state­ment that “addi­tional noti­fi­ca­tions” will be sent “as nec­es­sary.” “I am con­fi­dent that once noti­fied of the ram­i­fi­ca­tions and penal­ties asso­ci­ated with rent­ing a prop­erty for mar­i­juana dis­tri­b­u­tion pur­poses, prop­erty own­ers will take appro­pri­ate steps to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion on their own. The DEA will not turn a blind eye to crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tions that attempt to use state or local law as a shield for their illicit drug traf­fick­ing activ­i­ties,” Barnes said in a state­ment. The let­ters, which threaten prop­erty for­fei­ture and crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion, fol­low sim­i­lar fed­eral action against med­ical mar­i­juana oper­a­tions in East­ern Wash­ing­ton, North­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Col­orado tar­get­ing store­fronts near schools. In other states, the fed­eral actions at times have clashed with state or local laws allow­ing dis­pen­saries, flam­ing renewed debate in the 16 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia which allow med­ical mar­i­juana. “We need to enforce one mes­sage for our stu­dents: drugs have no place in or near our schools,” the U.S. Attor­ney for West­ern Wash­ing­ton, Jenny Durkan, said in a state­ment. Washington’s med­ical mar­i­juana law doesn’t autho­rize dis­pen­saries. An effort to legal­ize and reg­u­late them passed the state Leg­is­la­ture last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Gre­gorie, leav­ing Wash­ing­ton with one of the most unreg­u­lated med­ical mar­i­juana indus­tries in the coun­try. Gregoire’s veto left intact a law that allows 10 patients to band together to form a 45-plant “col­lec­tive gar­den.” Some med­ical mar­i­juana store­fronts have used a broad inter­pre­ta­tion of that pro­vi­sion to form net­works of col­lec­tive gar­dens, with off-the-street patients sign­ing into an open slot in a gar­den. The state law allows local gov­ern­ments to reg­u­late med­ical mar­i­juana oper­a­tions. Seat­tle, home to more than 140 med­ical marijuana-related busi­nesses, lightly reg­u­lates them, requir­ing only basic busi­ness busi­ness licenses and com­pli­ance with city build­ing safety codes. Ear­lier this week, three peo­ple involved in run­ning two Seat­tle dis­pen­saries pleaded guilty to fed­eral drug-dealing charges fol­low­ing raids on sev­eral store­fronts in Novem­ber. The raids come as Wash­ing­ton vot­ers will be con­sid­er­ing legal­iz­ing, tax­ing and reg­u­lat­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana use. Durkan hasn’t spo­ken out on the mea­sure, Ini­tia­tive 502, except to remind vot­ers that mar­i­juana remains ille­gal under fed­eral law. From The Seat­tle Times Blog Source: Seat­tle Times (WA) Author: Jonathan Mar­tin Pub­lished: August 23, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 The Seat­tle Times Com­pany Con­tact: opinion@​seatimes.​com Web­site: http://​www​.seat​tle​times​.com/

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DEA Tells 23 MMJ Store­fronts To Shut Down

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