The federal government’s crackdown on medical marijuana in California continues unabated, with agents raiding two dispensaries in Anaheim this week and threatening dozens of others in the area.
Expect more of these actions in the days leading up to the election as President Obama looks to head off accusations that he allowed the medical marijuana industry to grow out of control under his watch.
Once again, the government seems to be defying its official stance that it will make medical marijuana a low priority and only target operations that are located too close to schools, selling cannabis to people without cards, operating near schools or are simply “too big.” Ironically, the feds have targeted hundreds of dispensaries in some areas while leaving scores of dispensaries in other parts of California and in other states with MMJ laws alone. The crackdown is uneven and highly unpredictable, creating a chaotic business climate where uncertainty rules the day.
On Tuesday, agents stormed into a building housing two dispensaries – AAA Wellness Center and Anaheim Patients Association – and left with marijuana and cash.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed three lawsuits involving those two dispensaries and four others in the area, and federal officials sent letters to 66 marijuana centers – and their landlords – in Anaheim and La Habra ordering them to shut down. Dispensaries that received the warning letters have two weeks to wrap up operations.
With these moves, the government showed off the most powerful weapons in its arsenal all at once: Raids, lawsuits and civil forfeiture notices. It has repeatedly used some variation of these methods to force dispensaries to close, bolstering its attack by putting pressure on financial institutions to shut out medical marijuana operations.
This has become one of the top issues for the medical marijuana industry. Several experts have agreed to speak about how businesses can respond to – and hopefully avoid – these threats at the upcoming National Marijuana Business Conference in a panel discussion titled “When the Feds Come Knocking: Handling Raids, Civil Forfeitures & Other Attacks.” MMJ Business Daily, which is hosting the event, is offering a 50% discount on tickets through Aug. 31.