Defying federal judges’ calls for an outright ban, the West Coast Cannabis Expo, a gathering of medical marijuana growers and sellers went ahead with no sign of law enforcement officials.
At a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet in the face of job losses, medical marijuana is providing growing work opportunities.
One seller, named only as Larry, told CBS News he gets 10 job applications a day.
Larry said: ‘This industry is growing and it’s going to continue to grow. A lot of good things are going to happen for a lot of people.’
Bob Calkin, CEO of CannaJobs, and of the Cannabis Career Institute, said that there were increasing job opportunities.
‘Most of the people coming to the classes are retired people or people from another line of work, or business that have either crashed like the real-estate market or some other thing they’re leaving and they want to try something new,’ Calkin said.
Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges.
They also threatened to confiscate their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law.
But the cannabis crowd remains sceptical that the government will shut down one of the fastest-growing sectors of the California economy.
California’s four U.S. attorneys sent letters on Wednesday and Thursday notifying at least 16 pot shops or their landlords that they are violating federal drug laws, even though medical marijuana is legal in California.
The letters stated that federal law ‘takes precedence over state law and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana’.
The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana following a two-year period during which federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors’ recommendations.
The Department of Justice issued a policy memo to federal prosecutors in late June stating that marijuana dispensaries and licensed growers in states with medical marijuana laws could face prosecution for violating federal drug and money-laundering laws.
The effort to shutter California dispensaries appears to be the most far-reaching effort so far to put that guidance into action.
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