Easy livin' at California pot dispensaries is about to go up in smoke. Even though several shops are operating legally under the state law allowing them to dispense medical marijuana,16 have received letters from federal officials warning them to shut down—or be closed. Federal law "takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana," states the letter obtained by AP. Twelve letters were sent to dispensaries in San Diego, three to San Francisco shops, and one to a Marin County store.
Operators of the dispensaries or site landlords were ordered to shut in 45 days or face confiscation of property and possible imprisonment. It's not clear why those 16 were singled out, but officials are expected to reveal a more extensive crackdown at a press conference today. The move is an escalation in the battle between California and its 15-year-old law allowing medical pot dispensaries and the federal government. The Obama administration moved two months ago to toughen federal tactics against pot dispensaries, even though the earlier policy had been generally a hands-off approach in the 16 states where medical marijuana is legal. "This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The administration is simply making good on multiple threats," said a former adviser to the president's drug czar. (Read more marijuana stories.)