HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Dispensaries Could Be Shut
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jul 2007
Source: Pasadena Star-News, The (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Pasadena Star News
Author: Dan Abendschein, Staff Writer, Pasadena Star-News
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


County medical marijuana dispensaries are at risk of being shut down
since landlords received a letter from a federal agency telling them
they could lose their property or face up to 20 years in prison.

"Federal law allows for the seizure of assets, including real
property, which have been used in conjunction with the distribution of
controlled substances," states the Drug Enforcement Administration
letter, which was sent out last week in Los Angeles County.

The letter also contends federal laws "take precedence" over state
laws, such as Proposition 215 and SB 420, which allow for medical
marijuana use.

Managers from at least two collectives say they might have to close
their doors.

"Our landlord has asked us to shut down, so this Sunday will be our
last day," said a Los Angeles-based collective manager, who asked that
his name not be used.

A manager at a San Fernando Valley-based collective said he was still
trying to work things out with his landlord, but he had been asked to
stop operating as a dispensary.

"I just remodeled, and I have my life savings tied up in this place,"
said the manager, who also did not want his name used in print.

Sarah Pullen, DEA spokeswoman, said the letters should not be viewed
as a threat.

"We are literally just serving notice that these property owners are
violating the law," said Pullen. The DEA has not filed charges against
any landowner at this point, according to Pullen.

Chris Fusco of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy
group, said that landlords he had talked to were nervous but that he
did not expect further action from the DEA.

"It is a little frightening," he said. "But if they intended to follow
through on this, they already would have."

Pullen would not disclose how many property owners the DEA sent the
letter to, but Fusco says the letter has gone out to at least 30 that
he knows of.

"It's a shame that the DEA would use techniques on medical marijuana
that are normally reserved for crack houses and meth labs," said Fusco.

Fusco also said many of the landowners who received the letter were
not involved in running the dispensaries on their properties and that
several had told him they thought the collectives were legal.

In east Los Angeles County, many cities, including Pasadena, Hacienda
Heights, West Covina, Monrovia, and Monterey Park have already shut
down dispensaries and enacted ordinances against others opening up.

The only full-time collective left is in Whittier, and it did not
receive a letter, according to the managers.

An Azusa pot factory busted by police two months ago has been
connected to medical marijuana dispensaries all over county.

The District Attorney's Office was not informed of the letters,
according to spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons.

Lt. Jim Whitten, of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Narcotics
bureau, also said that he had not heard of the letters.

The letter was not the first time that DEA took action against county
dispensaries without notifying local authorities.

In January, the DEA raided 11 dispensaries, detained 20 people, and
seized thousands of pounds of marijuana.

Despite the letter, some dispensaries are not worrying about whether
they will stay open.

"At this point I am less concerned about my collective than about the
effect on the entire community of medical marijuana patients," said
Josie, a manager at the Karma Collective in Van Nuys, who says her
landlord has been "supportive" of the dispensary. 
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