United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder said yesterday the Obama Administration is changing the federal government’s position on enforcing federal law against medical marijuana use.
Although the Attorney General will no longer enforce federal law in some situations, medical marijuana use and distribution must still conform to local zoning and business license regulations.
Highly publicized reports concerning increasing numbers of store-front medical marijuana dispensaries have raised issues concerning their legality and cities' ability to regulate such dispensaries. The recent decision by the California Court of Appeal in Kruse v. City of Claremont along with the earlier decision in Naulls v. City of Corona provide much needed guidance. Best Best & Krieger attorneys successfully represented both cities in the trial and appellate courts.
In his announcement, the Attorney General stated that the Justice Department will continue to prosecute those persons whose claims of compliance with state laws are inconsistent with such laws' terms, conditions or purposes.
In particular, any one or more of the following characteristics will show that the medicinal marijuana use "will not be in clear and unambiguous compliance with applicable state law and may indicate illegal drug trafficking activity of potential federal interest: unlawful possession or unlawful use of firearms; violence; sales to minors; financial and marketing activities inconsistent with the terms, conditions or purposes of state law, including evidence of money laundering activity and/or financial gains or excessive amounts of cash inconsistent with purported compliance with state or local law; illegal possession or sale of other controlled substances; or ties to other criminal activities."