Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Reuters Examines Fed's Assault on Medical Marijuana, Finds it is an Unpopular Policy

Reuters posted an analysis of the federal government's efforts to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries through coercive "landlord letters" and threats to financial institutions.

Interestingly, the article comes to the conclusion that the U.S. Attorneys — particularly in California, which has been identified as "the number-one marijuana producing state in the country" — is pursuing action through the civil courts rather than the criminal courts because of the change of attitude regarding medical marijuana.

"Rather than try and get these criminal convictions, which they know the public does not support and which will only make an unpopular enforcement effort even more unpopular, they’re taking the softest route possible and that is definitely the administrative civil justice route of trying to get these landlords scared enough to stop that commerce from happening," said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

While the landlord letters work because property owners are unwilling to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend a single tenant, the dispensaries will move next door and the process will repeat.

While banks have also been threatened with seizure of assets if they work with dispensaries, owners have gotten around this by using personal accounts, using business fronts to open accounts or just moving to a cash-only model of business.

If federal prosecutors won't try "criminals" as such, are they really enforcing the law, or bullying legitimate businesses?

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