The Obama Administration’s medical marijuana crackdown came to Seattle in a big way today.
On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration sent notification letters to the operators and property owners of 23 “marijuana store fronts,” as they called them, “located in school zones.” The letters informed the owner/operators that such enterprises “operating as ‘dispensaries’ ” within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or “other prohibited area,” “could result in the seizure and forfeiture of assets, as well as criminal prosecution.”
The seizure could include the property where the dispensary operates, any money received from the business, and potential criminal prosecution. The letter orders dispensary operators and property owners to cease the sale and distribution of marijuana “within 30 days.”
“We all work hard to create a safe zone for kids in school,” claimed U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan of the Western District of Washington. “There is a reason that both federal and state laws prohibit the sale of marijuana in school zones. We need to enforce one message for our students: drugs have no place in or near our schools.”
At press time, Toke of the Town was unable to confirm whether Durkan and the DEA also planned to raid pharmacies within 1,000 feet of schools, since they sell far more dangerous and even deadly drugs such as OxyContin and Dilaudid. (Yeah, yeah. we know. They’d never do that in a million years, it might hurt those hefty campaign donations from Big Pharma.)
Toke of the Town will print a list of the dispensaries which received the warning letters as soon as one is available.
“Today, the DEA sent notifications to operators and property owners of publicly accessible marijuana storefronts to highlight potential criminal and civil penalties associated with the distribution of marijuana,” said Matthew G. Barnes, special agent in charge of the DEA’s Seattle Division. “These particular locations are close to schools and/or playgrounds and are operating in clear violation of federal and state law.
“Operation of any marijuana distribution storefront is illegal and undermines law enforcement’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing and trafficking of controlled substances to keep our citizens safe,” Barnes said. “This letter seeks voluntary compliance with the law to prevent future exposure to criminal prosecution and/or civil forfeiture proceedings.
“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,” Barnes threatened. “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.
“Additional notifications will be sent as necessary with follow-up action taken as warranted in coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington,” Barnes promised.
Federal law, which prohibits the distribution, possession or manufacture of controlled substances, provides enhanced penalties when such activities occur near an educational facility or playground (21 U.S.C. § 860(a)).
Furthermore, federal law makes it illegal to “knowingly and intentionally” rent or lease property for the purpose of unlawfully distributing, possessing or manufacturing a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 856(a)), and provides that real property used in such a manner can be forfeited to the United States (21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7)).