"I'm just informing you, I'm going to punch you in the face"
The LA Weekly with the latest dispatch from the federal DEA's grim war on LA-area pot dispensaries, against the will of local government. Excerpts:
Within the next 10 days, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to sign what is officially known as the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Interim Control Ordinance.
…..[Meanwhile] On July 6, the Los Angeles branch of the DEA sent letters to nearly 150 of the landlords in Los Angeles County who rent sites to marijuana collectives, pleasantly reminding property owners that selling cannabis is a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in the federal pen, and that even peripheral involvement could trigger the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 — meaning that the property owners' land could be confiscated by the U.S. government.
The letter triggered a rash of freak-outs among targeted landlords, causing scores of them to phone the DEA office — and their personal attorneys. "I'd say about 80 percent of the people we sent letters to called us," says DEA spokesperson Sarah Pullen. She says many believed that California state law trumps the federal statute, when, in fact, the opposite is true.
Attorney William Kroeger, who represents some collectives who rent space in L.A., says that if he represented targeted landlords, "I'd tell them, 'You should be in court five minutes from now filing eviction papers.' "
For its part, the DEA claims it simply sent the letters out as a courtesy, "to inform property owners about the law." Nobody in city government, or among the medical-marijuana activists, really bought it. "That's like me saying, 'I'm just informing you, I'm going to punch you in the face,' " says one unhappy collective owner.
……on July 25, Los Angeles City Councilman (and former LAPD officer) Dennis Zine held a press conference before the Wednesday City Council meeting, calling for DEA Administrator Karen Tandy to stop threatening property owners and to allow L.A. to proceed with regulating medical-weed distribution without federal interference.
Zine and other council members were furious. "What the feds are trying to do is flex their muscles," Zine said when told of the raids. "They want to show us who's boss. We're not trying to legalize marijuana," he said. "We're just trying to regulate it for compassionate use for those who need it."
Some earlier blogging on the topic from Dave Weigel.