Like their counterparts in many municipalities that have regulated medical marijuana on their own, Arcata, Ca., officials say federal enforcement of anti-marijuana laws has brought renewed chaos to the medical marijuana industry. Critics say federal authorities have indiscriminately targeted good and bad dispensaries, sometimes putting the best ones out of business, the New York Times reports. The crackdown, critics say, has made it difficult for qualified Californians to obtain marijuana for medical use and is pushing buyers into the black market.
California's four U.S. attorneys, working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service, have shut down at least 500 dispensaries statewide in the last eight months by sending letters to operators, landlords, and local officials, warning of criminal charges and the seizure of assets. The U.S. attorneys said the dispensaries were violating not only federal law but also state law, which requires operators to be primary caregivers to their customers and distribute marijuana only for medical purposes. Said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in the Eastern District of California: “We are concerned about large commercial operations that are generating huge amounts of money by selling marijuana in this essentially unregulated free-for-all that exists in California.”