Monday, September 24, 2007

Feds want pot shops evicted

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

The days of walking into a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Barbara, flashing a county or state issued identification card and exiting with a baggy full of pot without the threat of arrest could be over.
At least 19 property owners throughout Santa Barbara County, who either rent space to marijuana dispensaries or own them, have received notices in recent days from the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration that their line of work, indirectly or directly, is unequivocally illegal.
The letter gets right to the point.

“Federal law takes precedence over State law,” it says. “It is not a defense to this crime or to the seizure of the property that the facility operating on the property is providing ‘medical marijuana’ under California law including the provisions of California Proposition 215.”
While some property owners are seeking legal advice, at least one didn’t hesitate when he saw the DEA letterhead and digested the letter’s message.
Glen Mowrer III, owner of ACME collective, one of Santa Barbara’s dozen or so dispensaries, had already dismantled his operation at 211 W. Victoria St. as of yesterday.
A sign stuck to Mowrer’s door said: “Due to a letter from the DEA ACME is closed. Do not call or stop by.”
Mowrer said his mother owns the building and received the letter at the end of last week.
When asked if he plans to take any steps to fight the letter, Mowrer said he did not and noted that firm nudges from the DEA mean business.
“There is no options,” he told the Daily Sound yesterday while friends and employees were loading boxes with business supplies. “I’m very worried. I don’t want to risk my mom’s property.”
According to Brian Burks, a spokesman for the DEA in Los Angeles, that’s exactly what will happen if the dispensaries continue wheeling and dealing marijuana under the cloak of California Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996 by voters and allows those with a valid doctor’s recommendation to possess and grow the drug for personal medical use.
“It’s a violation of a federal law to intentionally rent, lease or make available use of these properties for the purpose of unlawfully manufacturing, storing, distributing or using a controlled substance, which is marijuana,” Burks told the Daily Sound in a phone interview yesterday.
The conflict between state and federal law is troublesome to Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum, who is an outspoken advocate for the legal, restricted distribution of marijuana.
“It’s frustrating for me because I’ve tried to figure out ways to get the medical marijuana to the people who need it and it seems impossible with the federal law the way it is,” Blum said. “I want it to be legal. I’m not a proponent of having to buy it on a street corner and I want it to be available in the pharmacies.”
The City of Santa Barbara will likely vote next week on a moratorium on new marijuana dispensaries, which will be retroactive back to Aug. 14.
More city related restrictions are in the pipeline, and according to City Attorney Stephen Wiley, will focus on zoning issues and conditional use permits.
Wiley said the city had nothing to do with the DEA letters.

6 comments:

allegro805 said...

You'd think the Federal government would have much higher priorities, including the DEA. Aren't there meth labs or cocaine traffickers out there just itching to be busted? I guess it's easier to go after sitting ducks -- even if those ducks are establishments selling pot to cancer patients.

So much for states' rights.

Anonymous said...

This is dumbfounding... leave us alone! So the feds want all purchasing to get BACK on the STREETS!

Anonymous said...

Stephen Wiley is behind the letters. He is a liar. He need’s to be striped of power. The last thing Santa Barbara wants is the ugly face of the federal Government. DEA GO AWAY!!! What ever happened to voter right’s

Anonymous said...

This is a pathetic waste of my tax dollars and the fact that so much attention is being paid to legal medical marijuana while meth is destroying lives makes me sick. Don't stand for it Santa Barbara!

Anonymous said...

If you want this to stop, make sure you contact the Governors office on Thurs. Oct 11 and tell him to stand up to the Federal Government and demand that they respect our law and our patients medical needs. More info at www.safeaccessnow.org/standup

Anonymous said...

can anyone tell me where/who is still operating as a pharmacy? I've been to two that have closed--one that was a particularly high quality establishment,too. Sigh.