Oakland marijuana dispensaries concerned over potential prosecution, taxes

A mural in downtown Oakland marking Oaksterdam University and the neighborhood where patients can buy medical marijuana from various cafes, clubs and dispensaries. Oaksterdam head Dale Sky Jones said she teaches her students to be good neighbors and that she resents the federal government’s interference in local medical marijuana policy. Medical marijuana supporters and business people in Oakland reacted angrily last week to dual blows from the federal government—a prosecution warning and a massive tax bill—as they speculated on the possible consequences for patients and the local marijuana industry.

“It blows my mind that the federal government would completely ignore the local communities and states trying to regulate medical cannabis responsibly,” said Dale Sky Jones, the head of Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, which offers training for working in the medical marijuana industry. “They are basically taking cannabis and putting it back in the hands of violent drug cartels.”

At an October 7th press conference in Sacramento, California’s four U.S. attorneys announced that they had each sent warning letters to the owners or landlords of at least 16 dispensaries in certain regions of the state. A press release from the office of André Birotte Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, said the letters warned of dispensaries “operating in violation of federal law,” and gave recipients two weeks to “take the necessary steps to discontinue the sale and/or distribution of marijuana,” or they could face criminal prosecution, fines and forfeiture of assets.

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