On Friday, four U.S. Attorneys in California announced a new federal policy in the state which would be counter to the Obama Administration’s long-held policy of not interfering in state medical marijuana laws.
The new policy will target collectives operating within 1,000 feet of schools or parks, despite the fact that local zoning ordinances have often allowed collectives to operate as long as they were more than 600 feet from schools. It may also be used against providers who distribute in excess of a certain amount, whether or not those providers were acting in full compliance with state and local law.
“The Obama administration has lost its way on medical marijuana and is about to seriously anger millions of Americans,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. “For some inexplicable reason, they have suddenly decided to target providers who are faithfully complying with state and local laws and pay their taxes.
”Without citing any harm caused by these providers, the Obama administration is trying to destroy them, kill thousands of jobs and drive medical marijuana patients – and profits – back underground,” Smith said. “This new policy favors the criminal market over legitimate, taxpaying businesses and is absurd.”
Friday’s announcement is another example of the Obama Administration’s inexplicable attempts to keep the marijuana market underground and unregulated. In July, the Department of Justice issued the Cole memo, which said that medical marijuana providers could be — and might be — prosecuted vigorously.
This, along with a number of U.S. Attorney statements, resulted in Gov. Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island officially putting the state’s dispensary system on hold last week, and earlier this year resulted in Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire vetoing a bill which would have legalized and licensed dispensaries in that state.
The same U.S. Attorneys in California mentioned above are currently sending letters to landlords who rent to medical cannabis collectives, advising them that they are in violation of the law and could be prosecuted.
Earlier this week, the IRS just informed Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the largest dispensary in the world that it owes the federal government $2.4 million, based on an audit in which an arcane provision of the tax code was applied to the fullest extent possible.
In Colorado, the ongoing refusal of the Obama Administration to address the concerns of financial institutions with respect to working with medical cannabis providers has produced a crisis, with the last remaining bank in Colorado to work openly with medical cannabis providers dropping all of these clients last week.