San Francisco News

Feds target pot clubs located too close to schools

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The federal government is going after medical marijuana dispensaries that are too close to schools by targeting the buildings that have pot clubs as tenants.

Sultan Alkhraisat owns a medical marijuana dispensary in the back of a cafe in San Francisco's Mission District. The pot club is half a block away from the San Francisco Friends School. In fact, there are several other cannabis dispensaries near Friends and two other schools.

Alkhraisat declined to be interviewed, but he did confirm that the owner of his building received a letter from the U.S. Attorney last week. It said, "there is a marijuana dispensary operating...within a prohibited distance of a school." And that it "may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets."

ABC7 has learned that the same letter has been sent to many other pot clubs operating in Northern California.

Even though medical marijuana is allowed by the state, any type of marijuana is illegal under federal law.

The U.S. Attorney's office declined to be interviewed, but a spokesperson said they are targeting dispensaries which are operating within 1,000 feet of schools.

"That is a legitimate rule and it makes sense when it's so close to a school," Mission District resident Dave Blair said.

Attorney Brendan Hallinan represents pot club owners and their landlords. He believes the government is waging a quiet campaign against his clients.

"They're not, you know, kicking in doors and taking people to jail, but they're creating a climate that's making it nearly impossible for medical cannabis collectives to survive," Hallinan said.

Hallinan adds that major and regional banks have recently stopped doing business with dispensaries, and that they can no longer get accounts with those banks and the IRS no longer allows them to right off business expenses.

The U.S. Attorney in Sacramento sent out a similar letter last week to building owners in the eastern part of the state.

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Tags:
marijuana, medical marijuana, pot club, mission district, children, san francisco news, vic lee
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