The federal Drug Enforcement Administration sent three more letters to Seattle-area medical marijuana dispensaries last week, agency spokesperson Jodie Underwood has confirmed. The letters “strongly advised” the dispensaries to pay “prompt attention” that they are in violation of federal law, and directed them to close down with 30 days.
That brings the total to 29 Washington dispensaries which have received threatening letters so far from the feds, reports Nina Shapiro at Seattle Weekly. This includes 23 facilities which got letters sent on August 18, three more sent out on August 30, and three last week, according to Dr. Decrim of WA CANN, the Washington Cannabis Alert and News Network.
The new letters were exactly the same as the previous ones, according to Underwood. Two of the shops receiving the new letters were Greenwood Alternative Medicine in Seattle, and HypeHerbally Holistic Health in Lynnwood. Toke of the Town has so far been unable to confirm the identity of the third dispensary.
The letters notified the dispensaries that they are operating in violation of the federal Uniform Controlled Substances Act, and also that federal law stipulates enhanced penalties for “drug dealing” within 1,000 feet of schools or other facilities catering to children.
The owner of HypeHerbally, one of the three shops receiving DEA letters last week, said he was surprised by the letter. According to Justin Ruiz, he’s measured his shop’s distance from a nearby park, and it’s more than 50 feet over the 1,000-foot limit. But, he says, “I can’t argue with the DEA.”
“We had the chance to see one of the letters that was released in August,” Dr. Decrim said. “Though the letters do say they were mailed because the business is operating within 1,000 feet of a school, this is only an enhancement charge. The actual crime they are being accused of in these letters is, paraphrased, operating an illegal drug enterprise.
“Considering the above, this part seems to be a very bad, and noteworthy, sign of a possible trend, in my opinion,” Dr. Decrim said.
Ruiz, as Dr. Decrim points out, said he was surprised by the DEA letter. HypeHerbally suspects they received the letter after complaints from neighbors that surfaced when Ruiz recently filed for a land use action.
“The lesson to be learned here, though, in my opinion, is that this is not the time for people in the medical field to be making any ‘big moves,’ ” Dr. Decrim said. “Discretion is going to be key in weathering this storm.
“So when it comes to media, advertising, filing for any forms of licenses, or anything else that can draw unwanted public attention for activity considered federally illicit: Everyone I know will be holding off until after the elections,” he said.
“It seems like a wise choice to me.”
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