The biggest worry for many marijuana dispensary owners and growers these days isn’t tied to financing, the competition or even a raid by federal agents.
It’s about what their landlords receive in the mail. Hundreds of dispensaries and growing operations have been evicted over the past year after the federal government sent threatening letters to their landlords. More could meet the same fate in the coming months.
Now, a federal lawmaker is hoping to change that. Last night, Democratic U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee introduced HR 6335, a bill that would prevent the government from seizing the property of MMJ landlords as long as their tenants are adhering to state medical marijuana laws. The measure would essentially amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt real property from civil forfeiture involving medical marijuana-related conduct.
This is exactly the type of measure that’s needed to stabilize the industry. In fact, it could prove critical to the long-term success of MMJ. Pressuring landlords has become the top strategy in the government’s crackdown on medical marijuana, and it’s working very effectively.
Recognizing the importance of the bill, marijuana organizations are now trying to mobilize their members to support it.
“Federal civil asset forfeiture laws were created to target large-scale narcotic traffickers, but the (Department of Justice) is using these draconian measures to target legally-organized and operated medical cannabis associations,” American for Safe Access wrote in a blog today about the bill. “This is fundamentally unfair, and we have to stop it.”
The bad news is that the odds are stacked against the bill. The site GovTrack.us – which tracks federal legislation – estimates the bill has just a 1% chance of passing. And there’s a long way to go. The measure must first make it out of a congressional committee before it goes to the House and Senate, and even that will be a challenge. Additionally, the bill’s eight co-sponsors are all Democrats, meaning supporters will have to try doubly hard to win over Republican lawmakers.