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Feds Start Crackdown on Pot Dispensaries, Major Growing Ops



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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 07, 2011

U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner says huge growing operations and for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries are breaking both federal law and California's medical marijuana law.  At a news conference in Sacramento today, Wagner and the other three U.S. Attorneys in California detailed dozens of operations that involve money laundering, falsified documents, sales to minors, and interstate drug trafficking. 

WAGNER "We have learned in the course of our investigations that huge amounts of marijuana grown here are flowing east to other states and huge amounts of money are flowing back."

In the past four months, 40 people in California's Eastern District have been indicted or charged, including the owners of R&R Wellness here in Sacramento.  Wagner says R&R is typical of operations interested only in medical marijuana for the cash that it brings in.

WAGNER: "During searches at the store and the residences of the defendants, agents found a total of 139 pounds of marijuana, over 2000 plants and over $280,000 in cash."

Other operations in the state are charged with generating tons of processed marijuana and selling it for millions of dollars.  Wagner says his office is interested in these people, not the people for whom the medical marijuana law was intended.

WAGNER  "The seriously ill people who are using marijuana to treat their actual symptoms. That is not a public safety… a large money problem. It's not the sort of problem we are focused on as law enforcement people."

Even so, two dozen pro-pot advocates chanted and yelled into bullhorns outside the federal courthouse about their rights being taken away. But George Mull with the California Cannabis Association says the feds are correct in saying profit has no place in a properly-operated medical marijuana collective.

MULL: "I Shouldn't be then going home and buying a Mercedes with extra money.  It should just be whatever's reasonable, the same as any not-for-profit that all of us are familiar with."  

Dozens of letters have gone out to landowners telling them they face forfeiting their property if marijuana operations don't stop immediately.  Wagner says the crime generated by such operations have now made marijuana a top priority.

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