Justice Department pressures two more pot dispensaries into closing

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, August 1, 2012 13:59 EDT
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The federal crackdown on medical marijuana clubs continued Tuesday, as two San Francisco dispensaries blamed their closing on threats from the U.S. Justice Department.

“The Justice Department sent our landlord one of those nasty letters,” HopeNet co-founder told KNTV-TV.

According to The San Francisco Examiner, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office did not comment on the closures, but the letters sent to the landlords of HopeNet and the Vapor Room warned them they faced property seizure and other penalties if the clubs did not leave the premises.

That language seems to resemble the letter sent to landlords of Colorado dispensaries earlier this year.

“This letter constitutes formal notification that a marijuana dispensary is operating on the above described property in violation of federal law,” the letter stated. “You are further advised that the real property is subject to forfeiture, and any money you receive, or have received, from the dispensary owner may also be subject to seizure and forfeiture.”

Nine San Francisco-area dispensaries have closed since last November, when 600 landlords across California were first contacted regarding the clubs operating in their buildings.

In June, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said only dispensaries breaking state law would be targeted, which made HopeNet’s closing particularly frustrating to Smith – she had served on the city’s Medical Marijuana Task force and helped put together the 2006 local ordinance expanding tolerance for smoking marijuana on private property.

“Hard to believe we did all these things and accomplished all these things in the City and they’re shutting us down,” she said.

The federal campaign against dispensaries has come under heavy criticism by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers. Last month, she told Raw Story it would be “really important” for Congress to tackle the medical marijuana issue.

“It would be hard for anyone to agree with the fact that someone who has HIV/AIDS or has cancer and they find relief from pain in medicinal marijuana that should be something that should be a priority to raid on the part of the Justice Department,” Pelosi said. “Going along with that, we need to address some of the penalties for any non-violent crime that are out there.”

In June, a state bill that would have created an outside agency to regulate dispensaries’ compliance with state laws and imposed a sales tax, was pulled by its co-author, state assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D), before it reached the state senate floor. Ammiano has said he would re-introduce the bill when the senate reconvenes.

Watch KNTV’s report on HopeNet’s final business day, aired July 31, below:

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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