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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

S.F. Pot Clubs Threatened by Government Crackdown Won't Sue

Posted By on Tue, Nov 8, 2011 at 7:45 AM

click to enlarge On defense
  • On defense

It was only a matter of time before the state's medical marijuana collectives went to the courts -- and the time was nigh Monday for Lynette Shaw of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana to announce at a downtown San Francisco law firm that she's suing the feds. Her deadline to close up shop or be incarcerated -- and have her 600-square-foot shop seized by government forfeiture attorneys -- is Friday.

Shaw's MAMM is one of about a dozen medical cannabis collectives from across the state refusing to go gently after the suit was filed last week in all four federal court districts in the state simultaneously, according to attorney Matt Kumin, one of the plaintiffs' counsels.

Already, an unknown number of collectives have closed shop or relocated in California; but nobody's really sure how many. And unless the lawsuit succeeds in convincing a federal judge to grant a temporary restraining order against Eric Holder's Justice Department -- a hearing could be held as soon as Tuesday -- at least three San Francisco dispensaries will shut their doors come Friday.

As of now, these three dispensaries are not joining the federal lawsuit, they said Monday.

The affected dispensaries are Mr. Nice Guy on Valencia Street, Divinity Tree on Geary Street in the Tenderloin, and Medithrive on Mission Street. All three are within 1,000 feet of a school, according to letters sent to their landlords penned Sept. 28 by U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag, who gave the dispensaries a 45-day deadline to close.

If the dispensaries remained open, their operators could face 40 years in prison and their properties could be seized, Haag said.

Haag and the other three U.S. attorneys for California announced at an Oct. 9 press conference a coordinated crackdown on the state's "illegal" medical marijuana industry. Thus far, no violations of state law have been presented by federal law enforcement -- and no action by state law enforcement against the state-legal dispensaries is known to have been taken. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for Haag, said the office had no comment.

The suit uses a few key arguments that will, the lawyers hope, prove to a federal judge that the government is breaking its own laws.
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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