Seven S.F. Marijuana Dispensaries Targeted by D.E.A.

marijuana dispensary hbtv hemp beach tvWe received word Wednesday that seven medical marijuana dispensaries permitted by the City of San Francisco are being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In Sept. 2012, D.E.A. agent David White requested from San Francisco the public records of: Ketama Collective; Igzactly 420; 1944 Ocean Collective; The Hemp Center; Mr. Purple Skunk; The Apothecarium; and Bernal Heights Collective.

White requested each dispensary’s business license and application, health permit and application, ownership information, yearly statements/forms (i.e., not for profit, affirmation of not crossing state lines, etc.). White is a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration Financial Investigative Team in the San Francisco Field Division.

This week, news broke that the D.E.A. is trying to force the closure of at least one of the targeted dispensaries, The Hemp Center. The Hemp Center’s landlord is being threatened with 40 years prison, property forfeiture, and asset seizure for renting office space to The Hemp Center, sources say. At least four landlords in San Jose received similar letters Friday.

San Francisco has permitted about 15 dispensaries. There are perhaps one hundred dispensaries open in San Jose, where citizens passed marijuana sales tax Measure U in 2010. California legalized marijuana for qualified patients, caregivers, and collectives in 1996 and 2003. Marijuana has been federally illegal since 1937, when bureaucrats in Washington D.C. started a war on marijuana based on racism and misinformation.

In 2009, President Obama said prosecuting state-legal medical cannabis patients should not be a priority of the Department of Justice. In 2011, the Department of Justice clarified that marijuana businesses were still a priority – regardless if they comply with state law.

In October 2011, Haag and three other US Attorneys declared war on California’s estimated $1.3 billion medical marijuana industry, threatening hundreds of landlords with forfeiture. Hundreds of dispensaries across the state moved or closed, including several beloved S.F. clubs like The Vapor Room – which is delivery-only – and Medithrive.

Last year, California Gov. Jerry Brown denounced the crackdown, saying California didn’t need “federal gendarmes” interfering with lawful tax-paying businesses.

In January, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano told a San Francisco crowd that Haag had “gone rogue.” He called the landlord threats “drone strikes”, and added “I’m sorry a house fell on her sister,” alluding to the wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz.

Last week, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom called for decriminalizing, regulating, and taxing California’s decades-old, multi-billion dollar marijuana industry.

The latest polls show almost two out of three Americans agree that federal authorities should leave state-legal marijuana alone. Almost three out of four Americans agree the estimated $7.6 billion federal war on pot each year costs more than it is worth.

The new threats this week follow a federal threats against all dispensaries open in Santa Ana, CA. last week, as well as the raid of a San Diego dispensary who had an operating agreement with the City of San Diego. The DEA also threatened 11 medical marijuana clubs in Seattle.

The California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) denounced the threats as yet another indication of the bankruptcy of federal marijuana policy.

“Despite the sequester, Newtown, and the Boston bombing, the Obama administration still insists in meddling in medical marijuana issues that properly belong to local authorities,” stated Cal NORML director Dale Gieringer.

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