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Will Federal Crackdown on Medical Marijuana Affect CO Patients?

In early October, federal attorneys based in Sacramento notified California’s medical marijuana dispensaries, their landlords and their growers to cease operations or face federal raids and shutdowns. Medical marijuana dispensary owners in California have worries that federal action may put them out of business. The Federal crackdown highlights a legal quagmire that exists in 16 states, including Colorado and also the District of Columbia, where medical marijuana is legal under state law, but remains illegal and prosecutable under federal drug laws.

When Obama took office in 2009, his administration announced that federal attorneys would not pursue individuals working in the medical marijuana industry who were acting within the state’s laws governing medical marijuana. The crackdown in California is seen as reneging on that promise.

Federal Raids

The crackdown on dispensaries, landlords and growers has already started. In October, federal officials, armed with assault rifles and chainsaws, raided a property where medical marijuana was grown. The owner, Matthew Cohen, had been praised prior to the raid by the county sheriff, who lauded Cohen’s strict adherence to state and local medical marijuana laws.

This episode highlights how the discrepancy in state and federal laws can affect state law-abiding individuals. Federal officials are acting under the assumption that the majority of California medical marijuana businesses are fronts for large, illegal marijuana drug rings.

So far, the crackdown in California has not affected the Colorado medical marijuana industry or its patients. However, Colorado’s medical marijuana business owners could face a situation similar to that in California in the future.

Until the disparity between state and federal laws is eliminated, the medical marijuana industry in states where the plant’s use is legal can still be prosecuted under federal law. If you or a loved one are in the medical marijuana industry and have faced legal action against your business, please contact an experienced Colorado medical marijuana attorney.