Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Justice Department threatens Spokane pot dispensaries

Posted on Wed, Apr 6, 2011 at 3:50 PM

U.S. Attorney Michael Ormsby sent letters to dozens of local property owners today, warning them that the medical marijuana dispensaries on their properties were illegal and that they could face criminal penalties if they allow the dispensaries to remain open.

"Drug traffickers cannot hide behind the law by simply claiming they are medical marijuana stores," Ormsby said in a statement. "We are preparing for quick and direct action against the operators of the stores."

The statement said there were more than 40 dispensaries in Spokane County, many of them "close to schools, parks and playgrounds where children are often present."

Thomas Rice, an assistant U.S. attorney in the office, said he wouldn't comment beyond the press release but said the office, and therefore the federal government, was serious in its threats.

Surisa Arispe, co-owner of Spokane Indicare, says she takes the threat seriously but thought its main goal was "just to scare us."

The letter says property owners have 30 days "to ensure that your property is not being used to facilitate drug trafficking in violation of Federal law." Within that time, legislators in Olympia might have finished hammering out a law explicitly allowing dispensaries to exist.  

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