Marijuana – Illegal under Federal Laws

Though medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, it is still illegal under federal law. Federal attorneys and prosecutors may still charge owners of marijuana dispensaries of a crime. These contradictions of state and federal statutes means persons fully compliant with local regulations can be penalized, jailed, and suffer life-long consequences. Our law firm can be an essential resource for defense of your rights and future whether you are a marijuana grower or dispensary owner who believed you were in compliance with the laws, only to have been subjected to a raid and arrest. If your medical marijuana dispensary is faced with civil litigation by local cities that are attempting to close your operation, you need qualified legal counsel.

In 2011, California’s four U.S. (federal) attorneys launched a crackdown on the state’s marijuana dispensaries. Since then, hundreds of retail stores have shut down. In September 2012, the feds began to focus on shutting down pot shops in LA, where more than 700 dispensaries operate.

Earlier this year, a Southern California man was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for operating medical marijuana dispensaries, even though they are legal in the state. This case came down to the ruling of a single U.S. district judge. Because of the amount of marijuana involved, the defendant received the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s office had sent the dispensary owner letters in October 2011 warning that his stores violated federal law. In response, the owner closed two of them. The next month, federal agents raided the remaining store twice. They seized marijuana plants and $11,500 in cash, effectively wiping out the business.

…federal laws takes precedent with marijuana

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, told news media that a federal judge must consider federal law, not state law. “Under federal law, marijuana is illegal. When there is a conflict with state law, federal law takes precedent,” he said.

Marijuana laws are complex; they constantly evolve and change. An attorney with specialized knowledge in state and federal marijuana laws, including those that outline medical use, is required for an effective defense for alleged violations. We assist collectives and dispensaries in staying in compliance with state and local law, and defend owners from local government lawsuits trying to shut them down.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman