Feds Amp up Attack on Marijuana from Cities to the Countryside

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The federal government knows a good moniker when it sees it.

Operation Mountain Sweep was the name of the 2002 U.S. military campaign conducted by the 82nd Airborne Division to hunt down Al-Queda and Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan.

Now the government is hunting for domestic bad guys across seven states, including the hills of California, and has trotted out the name once more for a massive marijuana eradication program that has uprooted 550,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated $1 billion.

Operation Mountain Sweep has been ongoing for eight weeks and has resulted in indictments of 28 California suspects and busts at 96 illegal marijuana pot farms. Seizures have included spreads in Sequoia National Forest, Death Valley and Mendocino National Forest.

Six federal agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security, joined with the California National Guard to swoop down on growers in remote areas.    

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors expanded their crackdown on medical marijuana in California this week, boring in on Orange County with lawsuits against dispensaries and warning letters to clinics. Three suits seeking a forfeiture of assets were filed against landlords of six pot shops in Anaheim, and a swarm of warning letters was sent to 66 clinics demanding their closure.

The federal government has been on a rampage since October last year when the four U.S. Attorneys assigned to California began a purge of medical marijuana operations. Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but until October the authorities turned a blind eye to California’s medical marijuana law, passed in 1996, that allowed limited purchase, possession and growing rights to those with a note of permission from their doctor.

The federal crackdown exacerbated an already chaotic situation in venues throughout the state as municipalities wrestled to come up with procedures and programs that would allow access to medical marijuana for the truly needy while preventing the rampant expansion of pot shops and the de facto legalization of the drug.

Cities and counties, whipsawed by competing legal and political forces, continue to shift their policies as numerous lawsuits percolate through state and federal judicial systems. More than 300 marijuana dispensaries have been targeted by the federal government over the past nine months.

–Ken Broder  


To Learn More:

Feds Take New Action in Crackdown on California Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (Associated Press)

2 Anaheim Pot Shops Raided, 66 in La Habra and Anaheim Warned by Feds (by Salvador Hernandez, Orange County Register)

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