The Obama administration’s crackdown on California’s highly profitable medical marijuana industry represents a dramatic departure from the low-key approach it has long pursued, the Los Angeles Times reports. California’s four U.S. attorneys said they are taking aim at large-scale growers and dispensary owners who are raking in millions of dollars while falsely claiming that their medical marijuana operations comply with state law, which does not allow for-profit sales.
In the early days of President Obama’s tenure, Attorney General Eric Holder said prosecutors would not target medical marijuana users and caregivers as long as they followed state laws. As the risk of prosecution diminished, storefront dispensaries and enormous growing operations proliferated in California, often in brazen defiance of zoning laws and local bans. “That is not what the California voters intended or authorized, and it is illegal under federal law,” said U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. of Los Angeles. “It does not allow this brick-and-mortar, Costco-Wal-Mart-type model that we see across California.”