Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2012
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Enterprise-Record
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Katy Sweeny


SACRAMENTO -- Federal judges reinforced federal drug laws outlawing 
marijuana by dismissing lawsuits advocating for dispensaries in all 
four California court districts, a U.S. Department of Justice 
spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Medical marijuana supporters sought to stop the federal government 
from prosecuting them but the judges upheld the Controlled Substances 
Act that lists the drug as schedule one, illegal, Lauren Horwood said.

Andrew Merkel, whose medical marijuana dispensary was the last to 
close in Butte County, said an action by Congress is the only way to 
stop prosecutors.

"They're doing their job, which is the unfortunate part," Merkel said.

In the Eastern District of California that encompasses Butte County 
and 33 others, U.S. District Court Judge Garland Burrell Jr. 
dismissed a lawsuit Feb. 28 filed by the Sacramento Nonprofit 
Collective doing business as El Camino Wellness Center and Ryan Landers.

The lawsuits were brought after the U.S. Attorneys in California 
announced they would go after dispensaries by threatening landlords 
with federal prosecution, Horwood said.

"Rather than just going after people in charge of day-to-day 
operations, we would go after the property owner whether or not the 
owner was involved in growing marijuana," Horwood said.

The landlord of Merkel's North Valley Holistic Health received a 
warning from the U.S. Attorney's Office, so the dispensary stopped 
dispensing in October.

In order to avoid prosecution, most medical marijuana dispensary 
operators in California either shut their doors or skip from 
storefront to storefront, Horwood said.

The latest lawsuit dismissal came on July 11 in the California court 
district that represents the coastal counties from Monterey north.

"If there were persons who doubted that federal law clearly prohibits 
the cultivation and sale of marijuana, these decisions by four 
separate federal judges dismissing four lawsuits should put that 
doubt to rest," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner of the Eastern 
District of California.

"Our responsibility as U.S. Attorneys is to enforce the Controlled 
Substances Act."
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