By Vincent R. Ross

Early in his presidency, Obama made it clear that he would not interfere with the distribution of medical marijuana in those states that had statutes permitting it as long as the dispensaries were in compliance with state and local law. That all changed abruptly in October of 2011. Assistant U.S. Attorneys from several districts in California sent warning letters to a number of dispensaries in the state informing the operators and their landlords that they faced federal prosecution and forfeiture of property if they remained in business.

This edict sent shock waves through the medical marijuana community. In less than 30 days, over 60% of the legally operating dispensaries in San Diego, CA closed their doors with no real prospect of reopening anytime in the foreseeable future. This put hundreds of people out of work and created the specter of criminal prosecution of users, growers and providers at the federal level for serious drug crimes. Convictions for those crimes would result in draconian consequences for the defendants.  

Although medical marijuana remains legal in California under state law, federal prosecution is a reality of which medical marijuana users, growers and providers must be increasingly aware. Even if you have a medical marijuana card issued in accordance with state law, you are not immune from federal prosecution. You may be growing medical marijuana for you own use, but that is still a violation of federal law. If you have legally owned firearms in your home and are growing marijuana, you could face forfeiture of your firearms, your home and property, and face substantially increased criminal penalties.

Proponents of medical marijuana are aware of the abject failure of the war on drugs. Prohibition not only creates a culture of gangsterism but also creates criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens. The federal government sees itself as the supreme law of the land. But this is not the only view. The 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reserves unto the states all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government. The federal government has usurped the power from the states to decide this issue.

However, this is not an argument you will win if the jackbooted thugs from some alphabet soup agency are kicking down your door. Remain silent. Do not admit anything. Immediately ask to speak to an attorney. Do not give up your right to remain silent, even if you are repeatedly coerced to do so.  If you are arrested, you will need an attorney that is experienced in defending the charges you will face. The attorneys at San Diego Defenders have over 50 years of combined experience in defending the most serious of drug crimes in state and federal court.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drug possess, possession of drug paraphernalia or any other drug related charge, please contact our office at (619)258-8888.