The Drug Enforcement Administration has ordered 11 Seattle medical marijuana dispensaries to close their doors and cease operations within 30 days. Even though November's voter approved Initiative 502 legalized marijuana for adults over the age of 21 throughout the State of Washington, the 11 dispensaries received DEA letters because the distribution of marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The letter informed dispensary owners that they had 30 days to cease operations or their properties may be legally seized under federal drug trafficking laws.
At the present moment, it remains unclear why these particular dispensaries were singled out because all owners are fully compliant with state and local laws. One thing is certain, however, these letters signal a return of the war on marijuana.
“These letters suggest that if my clients remain in business, they could lose their companies, their homes, their cars, basically every piece of property that the Feds consider an asset. ”
---Seattle criminal defense attorney Kurt Boehl
These letters are strikingly similar to letters that were mailed last summer to more than 2 dozen dispensaries in the Seattle community. Last summer's letters referenced federal drug sentencing laws that prohibit the sales of marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school, park, or other type of sensitive location. Yet, neither Washington nor Seattle prohibits dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a school or park and there is currently no federal law governing medical marijuana dispensaries and their proximity to schools.