Crime & Justice

Feds order CA medical pot shops to shut down

A medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.
A medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Federal officials are warning California medical marijuana dispensaries they must cease operation within 45 days or face criminal prosecution and having their property confiscated.

The state's four U.S. attorneys sent letters Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 collectives or their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California. The attorneys are to announce their coordinated crackdown at a Friday news conference.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the letters that a prosecutor sent to 12 of San Diego's dispensaries. They state that federal law "takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling pot.

The move marks an escalation of the conflict between the federal government and the medical marijuana industry as well as the efforts of cities statewide to regulate pot dispensaries.

In a recent development, a California appeals court deemed Long Beach's ordinance for medical marijuana dispensaries illegal, ruling that the law was in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act.