The two-week deadline has come and gone for more than 50 marijuana dispensaries in San Bernardino County that received letters from the federal government demanding that they shutter.
U.S. attorneys sent out the letters on Feb. 28 to businesses in San Bernardino, Fontana, Colton and Bloomington.

The letters threatened criminal or legal action in federal court if the dispensaries stayed open.

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Since the deadline some of the dispensaries have shut down, said Steven Welk, assistant U.S. attorney based in Los Angeles.

Walk could not provide exact numbers on how many dispensaries closed.

“People have been generally cooperative,” he said.

“We haven’t been in a position yet where we have had to (forcibly close them down).”

While officials are monitoring the situation it is not entirely black and white when it comes to closing doors.

“We have found that throughout this process sometimes there are logistical issues that the landlords run into in respect to complying with the 14 days,” Welk said. “Sometimes it may take longer than 14 days to fully comply.”

Welk said they will follow up with the dispensaries to make sure they are completing the process of shutting down.

“We’re hoping they’ll all be shut down within the next week to 10 days,” he said. “And if they’re not, then we’ll follow through with what we described in the letter.

A sample of the letter reads: “This letter serves as formal notice to you that the marijuana dispensary’s operations violate United States law and that the violations of United States law relating to the marijuana dispensary’s operations on your property may result in criminal prosecution, imprisonment, fines and forfeiture of assets, including the real property on which the dispensary is operating and any money you receive (or have received) from the dispensary operator.”
Federal law prohibits possessing or distributing marijuana for any reason, including medical use, but those who run or use dispensaries argue it’s legal in California.

They cite Proposition 215, the 1996 voter-approved measure that approved medical cannabis in the state, and Senate Bill 420, passed in 2003, which details the amount of marijuana a person can possess for medical purposes and sets guidelines for identification card programs.

“It kinda sucks,” said Jan Werner, a former collective operator. “They’re making it difficult.”

Werner said he did not personally receive a letter, but his landlord at a Bloomington facility did.

The Lake Arrowhead resident was thinking about reopening a business in Bloomington and was in talks with the landlord about making it happen.

“Then he received the letter,” said Werner, adding that the landlord then had second thoughts.

Werner does not think the letters will keep operators from opening somewhere else.

“It just means they have to be a little more creative looking for locations to open an operation,” he said.

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: San Bernardino, CA
Source: San Bernardino Sun
Author: Lori Consalvo
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: 2012 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Website: www.sbsun.com