Much of the media coverage surrounding the recent raids in Washington State and Montana focused on how federal agents targeted medical marijuana dispensaries, as they are the most visible part of the industry to the public and patients.
But lost in all the hoopla is the fact that they weren’t the only targets.
The crackdown in Montana, for example, also involved financial institutions, warehouses, growing operations, private homes and even a car-customization business.
The raids serve as a reminder that ancillary MMJ businesses could find federal agents at their doorsteps if they’re dealing or partnering with dispensaries engaged in shady practices. The government has rarely gone after those associated – but not directly involved – with the sale of medical marijuana. But the mere possibility of prosecution has already scared away many businesses and individuals, from banks and investment firms to landlords and accountants. Sure, there are some willing to work with the industry. But most don’t want to take such a big risk.
It doesn’t help that U.S. district attorneys in California have aggressively targeted these ancillary businesses. This fall, they sent warning letters to landlords in the state, telling them to boot MMJ tenants or face the possibility of arrest. One government official even threatened to go after newspapers and other media outlets that run advertisements for dispensaries.
Expect ancillary businesses to become even more gun-shy in the wake of the recent raids on the West Coast.