The four US Attorney’s offices in California have recently ratcheted up federal pressure and scrutiny of the state’s medical marijuana
industry. They have issued letters to growers, dispensaries and landlords renting to these operations, threatening to prosecute them under federal law, regardless of their standing in state law. Many people in the industry found the closures arbitrary, but a recently leaked internal memo from the US Attorneys’ office regarding marijuana enforcement
reveals several factors that may trigger prosecution. California medical cannabis compliance lawyer Chris Van Hook, founder of the Clean Green Certified [medical marijuana
inspection program, says dispensaries or private collectives that want to avoid being flagged by the US Attorneys should get a compliance check by a qualified attorney to eliminate any business practices that may put them at greater risk of prosecution.
Van Hook points out there are some understandable reasons for the federal government’s crackdown, as the current state of California law has led to abuse. Criminal activities are taking advantage of the confusion in the current state of California law. National land intended for the benefit of all Americans is too often used by cartels and illegal growers. Guns, kidnappings, assault and environmental degradation are all too often the norm for these operations. The US Attorneys’ memo particularly focuses on these criminal organizations, and the dispensaries that do business with them, as triggers for federal enforcement.
The memo recommends targeting dispensaries that a) sell large amounts of marijuana
(200 kg+ per year), b) perform sales that clearly violate state law, and c) exhibit additional factors of interest to prosecutors including links to criminal growers/distributors, provable links to gangs, financial crimes such as money laundering or tax evasion, service to minors, etc.
“Reputable medical cannabis growers would do well to mind these guidelines. With the increased scrutiny of the medical marijuana
industry by the federal government, it is a good idea to take the time to review your own particular compliance program to make sure you are not engaging in activities or partnerships that may draw federal attention,” suggests Van Hook.
The California medical cannabis compliance lawyer
recommends beginning a medical cannabis compliance review by identifying and working with a qualified California attorney familiar with the California state laws on medical cannabis production and distribution.
“By starting with a qualified California attorney, you can be more confident that you are receiving up-to-date information and proper legal advice.