Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Orange County Come Under Fire

October 26, 2011
By The Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera, Jr. on October 26, 2011 3:24 AM |

Years after California lawmakers allowed marijuana for medical purposes, law enforcement is investigating and raiding many medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, including Orange County. Investigators say these operations are nothing but a front for drug dealing.

The fine line between drug dealing and growing medical marijuana in Santa Ana has proven to be difficult for dispensaries that are created to cultivate and distribute marijuana for medicinal purposes.
The problem in California is that while growing and selling marijuana for medical use is legal and governed by local towns, it is still illegal under federal law. Santa Ana medical marijuana defense lawyers have seen many people charged with a crime in mix-ups even though they have the legal right to smoke marijuana for medical reasons.

Despite California's forward-thinking in this regard, it has still led to many problems among those who have a right to use the drug for medical reasons. Therefore, a strong defense must be presented to clear up the confusion in these cases.

USA Today reports that officials are saying medical marijuana dispensaries are fronts to the illegal drug industry, and therefore they have begun raids to try to uncover illegal drug dealing. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 15 other states and Washington. D.C., as well but there are strict regulations.

The dispute between state and federal law has signaled the Justice Department to tell U.S. attorneys that they can prosecute dispensaries under federal drug and money laundering laws, a priority that has been increased in recent months.

Fox News reports that many believe this is a bad faith effort by the Obama Administration, which previously agreed to leave marijuana shops alone. With an election upcoming, some believe recent raids have a political motive. Many dispensaries have been given warning letters telling them to shut down or face prosecution.

Dispensary owners have been hoping federal investigators wouldn't stick their nose in California's business, but they have sat by idly since 1996, when the law was passed. Since then, the state and federal laws have been at odds, but the feds have largely laid back and taken a hands-off approach.

But it appears they have done an about-face and are now seeking to prosecute dispensary owners under federal laws that are designed to crack down on large-scale drug ring operations. Money laundering and racketeering operations were designed to cut out mob-like businesses that use illegal acts to make big money. Dispensaries are used for medical purposes, as dictated by the law.

This is simply a waste of time and money, but one that some politicians hope will look good on their resumes. It appears the famed "War on Drugs" goes on, even for drugs used to help the hurting.

If you are facing felony charges in Orange County, contact the Law Offices of Vincent J. LaBarbera Jr. to discuss your options. With three decades of experience, Attorney LaBarbera has argued more than 200 criminal trials and appeals. Call (714) 541-9668 for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Lake Forest Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Should Fight Efforts to Force Closure: March 22, 2011

Additional Resources:

Feds target medical-marijuana dispensaries in California, by Donna Leinwand Leger, USA Today

Medical Marijuana Controversy Boils Over, by Robin Sax, My Fox LA