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US Attorney issues warning over medical marijuana

 . Federal prosecutors issued a sharp warning Monday to people planning to open medical marijuana dispensaries or large-scale growing operations under Arizona’s new medical marijuana law.

The federal government will vigorously prosecute anyone involved in unlawfully manufacturing, distributing and marketing marijuana, U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke said in a letter to the state health department.

The letter came in response to numerous inquiries and to ensure there was no confusion about the U.S. Department of Justice view of the state’s plan to regulate marijuana for medical use, Burke said.

“This compliance with Arizona laws and regulations does not provide a safe harbor nor immunity from federal prosecution,” Burke wrote.

The letter was sent to Arizona Department of Health Services Director Will Humble.

The Justice Department has consistently advised that Congress determined marijuana is a controlled substance, and that possessing, growing or distributing marijuana in any capacity other than federal authorized research is a violation of federal law.

Burke wrote that the Justice Department has told its prosecutors not to focus resources on people who use marijuana under the auspices of a state program.

In practical terms, Humble said the letter was a warming to large-scale operators.

“I think it’s a pretty clear shot across the bow for applicants who intend to have large-scale cultivation facilities or a big dispensary,” Humble said.

Voters passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in November, and empowered the health department to license users and dispensaries. The state started accepting applications for medical marijuana user cards last month and will begin taking dispensary applications on June 1.

“I believe the federal government ought to enforce their laws,” Gov. Jan Brewer said. “I have been calling on them to do that with regards to illegal immigration, and they have refused, so I guess that they pick and choose which ones they want to enforce.”

Brewer has been battling the federal government over its efforts to prevent the state’s law cracking down on illegal immigrants from being enforced.

She also said the voters of Arizona approved the medical marijuana law, and she assumes it will be implemented as planned.

Humble said the first dispensary licenses should be issued in early August.

“I think the biggest impact the letter could have would be to cut down on the number of dispensary applications that we get, especially for people who have a lot to lose and people that were planning to have a business model that included large-scale cultivation or a large dispensary,” he said. “Because it makes it clear that even if they were in total compliance with our rules … they could go to the pokey. “

The letter also said federal officials could bring forfeiture actions against dispensaries and their owners.

“It’s not just losing your freedom, it’s losing your stuff, too,” Humble said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

5 comments

  1. Let’s see what we have on the table concering medical marijuana, cities wanting to place clinics in “industrial areas’, landlords refusing to rent dispensarys retail space, the Feds saying they will enforce drug laws and accident lawyer just waiting for “stoned” drivers to cause accidents. Medical marijuana is dead before it started.

  2. I can understand people getting bent out of shape because there’s a new mother nature taking over. But for Christ’s sake, give medical marijuana a chance.

  3. Well compare the proclaimed stance the Fed had in 2009 to today. What happened meantime? Google this “Holder Vows To End Raids On Medical Marijuana Clubs”.

    Short memories I guess. MEDICAL Marijuana, in states that have such programs, is patriotic. Grow domestically and provide safe access to patients, thus eliminating transport across boarders and crime risk keeping American’s safer!

    After two years of providing the technology dispensaries must have I can tell you if you build it, they will come. Most everyone benefits from it, unfortunately even the justice and penal systems.

    Having a complete medical marijuana dispensary management solution such as 420soft, which, in the event of raid or robery, protects patient records and prevents unauthorized access, even if they got your computers, is the only intelligent choice.

    I’m here to help if you have any questions and best success to you Arizona. Welcome aboard.

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