Several medical cannabis dispensaries in San Francisco have closed in the past few days and many more could soon follow suit, the result of mounting pressure from the federal government on the MMJ industry in California.
The owners of three pot shops – Divinity Tree, Medithrive and Mr. Nice Guy – decided to shut down after receiving letters from a U.S. district attorney’s office threatening to seize their property and throw them in jail for up to 40 years if they don’t close. Government officials take issue with the fact that the dispensaries are located within 1,000 feet of a school, though that’s technically not a violation under state or local laws.
The three dispensaries, which were given until last weekend to shut down, pumped several hundred thousand dollars annually into city coffers in the form of taxes and employed several dozen workers.
Other medical marijuana centers are taking a wait-and-see approach, even though they could be prosecuted. More than half of the 25 dispensaries in San Francisco are reportedly located within 1,000 feet of a school. Beyond the three confirmed closures, it’s unclear exactly how many shut down at this point.
Pot advocates in California recently filed a lawsuit that, among other things, asks for a temporary restraining order preventing the government from arresting and prosecuting medical marijuana professionals, claiming the crackdown is unconstitutional. But the court hasn’t yet issued a ruling on that part of the suit yet, leaving dispensaries in a legal limbo.