California News

U.S. Attorneys announce medical pot crackdown

Friday, October 07, 2011

California's U.S. Attorneys announced Friday a crackdown on the state's medical marijuana industry. They plan to shut down the large, commercial operations that are making huge profits.

Members of the medical marijuana industry are still trying to figure out how Friday's announcement will impact them. The California U.S. Attorneys say that California is the nation's marijuana supplier and that must some to an end. They cited the example of a Fresno dispensary that was making $30,000-$50,000 a day, accepting cash only with an ATM in the store, as the kind of operation the federal government is now targeting on both criminal and civil fronts.

The four California U.S. Attorneys say large scale marijuana operations hide behind the state's Compassionate Use Act that law allows the use of medicinal marijuana with a doctor's permission. The U.S. Attorneys say millions of dollars are being made by those who have only themselves in mind.

"The California Compassionate Use Act was intended to help seriously ill people but the law has been hijacked by profiteers who are motivated, not by compassion, but by money," Northern District U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said.

The U.S. Attorneys said they are not interested in prosecuting seriously ill people, and would not have the resources to do that even if they did. Instead they are targeting land-owners and the major grow operations.

But marijuana activists and organizers of a cannabis industry job fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City say the message is clear.

"The idea is to intimidate people who are thinking about getting into the industry or maybe who are in the industry and maybe scare them off if they're easily scared off," Cannajobs spokesperson Bob Calkin said.

"This is nothing more than cannabis terrorism to scare everyone," Kush Magazine spokesperson Cheryl Shuman said.

One man who is not scared is Steve DeAngelo, co-founder of Oakland's Harborside Health Center, one of the largest dispensaries in the state.

"We decided when we opened our doors five years ago that it was worth the risk to serve seriously ill patients and we're going to continue doing that," DeAngelo said. "We're a non-profit community service organization; we are not a drug trafficking organization."

In the Bay Area, the U.S. Attorney says she has decided to first target dispensaries near schools and parks. Last week, she sent those landlords and property owners warning letters from her office.

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medical marijuana, marijuana, pot club, california news, heather ishimaru
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