From Saturday onwards, the Californian government have ordered dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries to close down. Distributors and their landlords were told in late September to shut down in 45 days or face prosecution.
This has invoked huge protest and unrest within the state and also some distributors have already filed for a temporary restraining order earlier this month. California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, but the use of the drug remains illegal under federal law and thereby creating confusion regarding the legality of the usage of marijuana since long time. Federal prosecutors are focusing on towns and cities that have already banned marijuana shops.
US attorneys stated that they are targeting large dispensary operators and growers, instead of individuals. Sale of marijuana for profit purposes are in violation of California’s state law and thereby illegal. Also, some specific outlets were targeted because of them being situated near schools and parks. Federal prosecutors are focusing on towns and cities that have already banned marijuana shops.
However, the lack of consistency in the federal government’s marijuana policies has angered the pro-marijuana groups. As per the federal law, the patients using marijuana for medical purposes will not be prosecuted, but still the government wants to shut off the supply of marijuana. Also, complaints have been filed in four US district courts in California, which all says that a federal crackdown contradicts an agreement from a previous court case. In that case, the federal government stated that it would not use its own power against marijuana patients who were acting within the guidelines of state law.
The advocates of medical marijuana also are against the idea of closing down dispensaries as it is a violation of the 10th amendment to the US constitution, they are saying that the drug is a key element of palliative care for patients with a range of conditions which includes cancer, chronic pain, glaucoma and arthritis.
In the wider US, the District of Columbia and 15 additional states allow patients to possess marijuana with a doctor’s prescription but lots of prescriptions are largely misused and the drug is in effect being made legally available to healthy recreational users.
But federal officials claimed that they are well within the law.Unless and until ordered otherwise, we will continue to do our duty in enforcing federal narcotics laws, the US attorney for the Eastern District of California told the New York Times in a statement.
However, large part of protests and fights are happening underground as not everybody wants to fight publicly.
Report by Indrani Chowdury