U.S. Attorney Sends Notices to Malibu Cannabis 'Pharmacies'
• All County Establishments Targeted
BY BILL KOENEKER
Last week, the U.S. Attorney's office announced federal enforcement actions against commercial marijuana operations with warning letters and civil lawsuits targeting storefronts in Los Angeles County.
Among those informed were the two medical marijuana pharmacies in Malibu.
Both local operators declined to comment on the action and indicated to the Malibu Surfside News that they want to keep low media profiles.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's office of the Central District of California, which includes Los Angeles County, "Federal authorities last week filed two asset forfeiture lawsuits against properties housing three marijuana stores in Santa Fe Springs and sent warning letters to people associated with another 34 illegal marijuana operations in Los Angeles County.
"The warning letters and lawsuits target all known marijuana stores in the communities of Santa Fe Springs, Whittier, South El Monte, La Mirada, Diamond Bar, Artesia, Paramount, South Gate, City of Commerce, Agoura Hills and Malibu."
The warning letters were mailed out last week to the property owners and operators of the 34 marijuana stores "that are either currently operating or were recently closed."
"The warning letters give the operators and landlords 14 days to come into compliance with federal law or risk potential civil or criminal actions," the press release goes on to caution.
The U.S. Attorney's office reports that a total of 12 asset forfeiture complaints have been filed. "Three of those actions have been resolved with the closure of the marijuana stores and court-approved consent decrees in which property owners agreed that they would no longer rent to people associated with illegal marijuana operations or the property would be subject to an immediate forfeiture to the government.
"Federal enforcement actions have now targeted more than 220 marijuana stores and grows in the Central District of California. The majority of these stores are now closed, are the subject of eviction proceedings by landlords, or have been the subject of additional federal enforcement actions such as search warrants."
The press release reports the government is relying on this opinion in the lawsuits: "Under federal law, the distribution of marijuana (a Schedule I controlled substance under Title 21) is prohibited except under very limited circumstances not applicable here. The government is informed and believes that at all times relevant to this complaint, the operation of the marijuana stores on the defendant property was not (and is not) permitted under California law."