Landlords Face Pressure in Feds’ Fight Against Medical Marijuana

 by lucy

The medical marijuana crackdowns in MMJ states like California and Colorado have forced a number of dispensaries to close their doors.  In their continued efforts to eradicate medical marijuana collectives, federal officials are now putting the pressure on the landlords who lease the storefronts to the shop owners.  Landlords are being told that they must force the collectives to shut down or face having their real estate seized as a part of a civil statute which is designed to seize the assets of drug-trafficking organizations.

By targeting landlords rather than collective owners directly, federal officials hope that collective owners will be evicted from their physical locations. This puts the heat on the landlords and takes attention away from the fact that the feds are trying to shut down the states’ medical marijuana industries.  The federal government is able to avoid a potential PR-nightmare by putting the responsibility of closing down the shops into the hands of the actual property owners.

According to Greg Baldwin, a former federal prosecutor, “Filing asset-forfeiture lawsuits against these commercial properties is a very clever way to handle an otherwise horrible difficult and controversial situation.  If you bring criminal charges against these medical marijuana businesses, the federal government gets pilloried in the press for attacking California law and sick people.”

This tactic is similar to one employed by the feds in late 2011, in which they threatened banks that did business with medical marijuana companies.  Because medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, federally insured banks even in states where it’s legal were notified that if they worked with medical marijuana businesses, they would be putting themselves at risk of racketeering and money laundering charges, due to the fact that marijuana is a “high-risk are for money laundering.”

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, believes that these tactics are being used because the Justice Department has been instructed by President Barack Obama not to directly go after medical marijuana, but they also feel as though they cannot ignore the issue and risk having their reputation diminished.  The Justice Department does not want to appear as though they approve of the sale and use of a federally illegal drug, so they are using roundabout methods in order to shut down the medical marijuana industry.

Last week, dozens of property owners in California received warning letters, threatening asset-forfeiture lawsuits if they continued to house medical marijuana businesses on their property.  Hundreds of similar letters have been sent to other business owners throughout the state in the past few months.

Since California is viewed by many as being at the forefront of the medical marijuana movement, these actions against property owners could signal a trend that will proliferate other medical marijuana states if it is found to be successful.  Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 17 states as well as the District of Columbia.



5 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. 0

    dallas said on Jun 14, 2012

    And more money being spent federally to tell state citizens how to act based on THEIR laws (independent of the state) and pushing weed out of facilities where the onus is to be on the business to be compliant and into the back alleys where compliance obligations are nil.

  2. 0

    Elvers said on Jun 15, 2012

    as long as it's state aproved they have no say at all so who will they put preasure on but the landlords the landlords can agree with them and then tell them to fuck off and die. landlords have a right to whom they can rent to without prejudice.that's the law!! the feds are threatening because the Judges & the guy's who went after Holder put the screws on the fed!! I think it's funny how there trying to play this game but at the same time it could be dangerous to everyone.! I think it would be a good time for Mr. Obama to step up.!!!

  3. 0

    JakRusslo said on Jun 15, 2012

    This is ridiculous. They are trying to be sneaky!

  4. 2

    Gossett said on Jun 16, 2012

    What it all boils down to is money. These big corporations (pharmaceutical companies) want to come in and have their hands in the cookie drawer along with the government and then they will say everything is legit. Obama is coming down on the cops side for the votes to get re elected. Let's just legalize it and then it will be harder for teenagers to get their hands on it just like cigarettes and Alcohol, which of course are much more deadly.

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