Late Thursday, California Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced HR 6335 with seven co-sponsors. The States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act would stop the seizure of property from the landlords of medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with California state law.
The proposed law comes in response to US Attorney Melinda Haag serving lawsuits against the landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries in Northern California in recent weeks. The tactic is a way to effectively shut down medical marijuana collectives without the government looking like the bad guy.
One of the collectives that was targeted by such a lawsuit was Harborside Health Center in Oakland. US Attorney Haag’s actions sparked outcry from city and state officials as well as medical marijuana advocates.
This morning Congresswoman Lee released a statement regarding HR 6335. She explained, “Yesterday, I introduced legislation to urge the Administration and the Congress to begin to align federal law to states’ laws that allow for safe access to medical marijuana for patients. As a long-time supporter of the rights of patients to have safe and legal access to medicine that has been recommended to them by their doctors, this bill will provide clarification to California businesses and security for California patients. The people of California have made it legal for patients to have safe access to medicinal marijuana and, as a result, thousands of small business owners have invested millions of dollars in building their companies, creating jobs, and paying their taxes. We should be protecting and implementing the will of voters, not undermining our democracy by prosecuting small business owners who pay taxes and comply with the laws of their states in providing medicine to patients in need.”
Over the course of the past year, medical marijuana collective owners have come under fire from the DEA and federal officials. Landlords of medical marijuana businesses are the newest targets. The landlords are being threatened with having their properties seized if they do not evict their tenants.
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, explained, “Property owners have become the most recent victims in the Justice Department’s escalating attack on medical marijuana.”
Should HR 6335 pass, the federal government will no longer be allowed to use the civil asset forfeiture statute to go after property owners if their medical marijuana dispensary owning tenants are in compliance with California’s medical marijuana law. However, if medical marijuana collective owners are not in compliance with state law, federal officials will still be able to target landlords and threaten to seize their property.