Barack, meet Ngaio
Hindsight is 20/20. But, if you look back, there clearly were signs: The Department of Justice’s “clarification” of its cannabis policy earlier this summer. A subsequent federal warning that firearm retailers not sell to medical-cannabis patients. Increased seizures of medical-cannabis collective bank accounts, even here in Sacramento. The Internal Revenue Service levying a $2.4 million penalty on Bay Area dispensary Harborside Health Center. Not to mention the raids, arrests and federal interventions—which never really subsided despite candidate Barack Obama’s assurance that, under his presidency, the federal government would not prosecute medical cannabis in California.
Well, chalk that up as yet another campaign fib: This past Friday in downtown Sacramento on I and Fifth streets, the state’s four U.S. attorneys laid out a case that California’s medical-cannabis dispensaries are 1. illegally making it rain with millions in dirty drug money; 2. bringing about rampant neighborhood crime; 3. making it easier for children to get their hands on pot; 4. generally being an all-around menace to society.
“Dozens” of letters from the U.S. attorneys are currently in the mail, going out to state dispensary operators, landlords, property owners and cultivators. They warn to shut down operations in 45 days, or face property seizures and federal prosecution—in some cases up to 40 years in prison.
This isn’t the first time the feds have come down hard on California. Which is why SN&R called up Sacramento activist, comedian and publisher of West Coast Cannabis Ngaio Bealum for perspective. He gamely offered up ideas and hope and words from the wise on how the local medical-cannabis community can prevail over this latest, if daunting, hurdle.