SAN BERNARDINO, CA — The Department of Justice is once again escalating its War on Medical Marijuana in California this week. On Tuesday, 50 medical marijuana dispensaries in San Bernardino, Fontana, Colton and Bloomington received letters from the US Attorney’s office in Southern California threatening criminal or legal action in federal court if they remain open.
In the letters, the dispensaries were given a 2 week deadline, and must close by March 13.
“This letter serves as formal notice to you that the marijuana dispensary’s operations violate United States law and that the violations of United States law relating to the marijuana dispensary’s operations on your property may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets, including the real property on which the dispensary is operating and any money you receive (or have received) from the dispensary operator,” reads a sample version of the letter.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since the landmark passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. In 2003, the California legislature worked to regulate the state’s medical marijuana program with the passage Senate Bill 420, which set up guidelines for the state’s medical marijuana licencing program, and limits the amount of medical marijuana a patient can possess. The Department of Justice, however, argues that federal law prohibits the possession, sale, or cultivation of marijuana, and state medical marijuana laws are worthless.
This is the latest escalation in an ongoing battle from a combined effort of the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration that began in October, and has resulted in the largest attack on medical marijuana since California passed Proposition 215 in 1996. The attacks have brought criticism to the Obama administration, who in 2009 issued a statement saying that the DOJ would respect state laws regarding medical marijuana, but have since emphasized that federal drug laws trump state rights. President Obama has remained silent on the issue since the crackdown began.
Similar letters have been sent to dispensaries in other parts of California, as well as Colorado and Montana, has bullied the Governors of Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island into delaying medical marijuana in their states.