Feds to punish medical marijuana dispensary landlords

Feds to punish medical marijuana dispensary landlords

Published on 11/22/11

The Federal Government is showing no signs of bluffing in their threat to come after landlords of dispensaries in San Diego. The deadline for dispensaries to quit operating was this week and most of them have no idea what they're going to do. Only a select few businesses are braving the storm and going to stay open.

The latest round in the fight over medical marijuana looks like it will go to the federal government.

While the state law allows for medicinal marijuana, federal law does not. Last month, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent a letter to pot shop landlords, saying if they do not kick out the dispensaries, the landlords could lose their own property.

“The feds have indicated that they have no intention of backing down,” said Jessica McElfresh, an attorney and medical marijuana supporter.

The deadline for landlords is set for this week.

"We have no idea if this threat is real, but you have to respond to it,” said McElfresh, “and if the intent of the U.S. Attorney's was to shut off access to medical cannabis, well, they have done a very good job."   

From one door to the next, most the city's roughly 165 medical marijuana dispensaries on record earlier this year have suddenly closed up shop.

One of the lone remaining shops open downtown says it will be closing next week. The few others who are staying open do not want to talk publicly for fear of becoming a target.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not say if or when any action will be taken.

“Many of them don't know where they're going to go now,” McElfresh said. “I get calls from patients all the time who are panicked.  They have no idea where they are going to get a legal source of medical cannabis."

The U.S attorney's office said it would not be commenting on the issue at all.

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