Bay Area lawmakers push back on pot crackdown


At a recent ride along, gang task force officers stopped a car carrying three young men. They found pot in the car. The driver produced a medical marijuana form. He told ABC7, it was easy to get one. He was referred to a doctor, he said he had trouble sleeping and back pains and paid $40 for a card.

Two weeks ago, California's U.S. Attorneys announced they were cracking down on the growing number of profiteers who were infiltrating the medical marijuana business.

"The California Compassionate Use Act was intended to help seriously ill people but the law has been hijacked by profiteers who are motivated, not by compassion, but by money," Northern District U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said at an Oct. 7 press conference.

Wednesday, State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco and Assm. Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, called on federal authorities to stop its crackdown.

"Some of the steps that we do want to take; one is, sit down and talk to the IRS and talk to Department of Justice and [say], 'What exactly are you getting at?" Ammiano said.

Mira Ingram is a medical marijuana user. She says the crackdown makes no distinction against legitimate patients.

"It is an attack on hurting people who are sick and disabled and need help," Ingram said.

The crackdown includes going after pot clubs too close to schools and landlords who house the dispensaries.

Charles Pappas operates a dispensary in one of the buildings targeted by the U.S. Attorneys. He says his landlord has gotten a letter threatening fines and forfeiture of his property.

"We will probably close in 20 days because it was a 45 day notice," Pappas said.

Ammiano and Leno say they realize that marijuana is illegal under federal law and that the authorities have the right to enforce that law.

"But we're here today because if we weren't, the message in our silence would be 'Go right ahead and do whatever you want,'" Leno said. "We're here to say 'stop.'"

They say they want to talk to federal authorities first before drafting legislation on pot clubs that may satisfy concerns about illegal profiteering.

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