SFist has been hearing rumblings from the medical marijuana community of late that that first wave of dispensary closures by the feds was just the beginning, and there were more closures to come. Now our very own DA, George Gascon, has become a turncoat in the fight as well, coming out with a memo stating that "marijuana sales are illegal," which represents an about-face from the line he toed as a candidate for DA.
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised.
As the East Bay Express reports, Gascon told a group from Americans for Safe Access San Francisco last year that he "supported" medical marijuana, and "when pressed by the group, dropped charges against a San Francisco cultivator." But now, as the memo from his office states, "a marijuana mega-myth has been perpetuated: selling marijuana over-the-counter at marijuana selling outlets is legal. While California's medical marijuana laws may be complex, the law is clear that marijuana sales are illegal."
This memo comes as the Department of Justice continues its crackdown on pot dispensaries statewide, and as a new round of San Francisco dispensaries receives threatening letters suggesting they are about to be shut down. Just this month, a federal judge in Sacramento rejected a suit by some of the dispensaries and advocates who tried to argue that the Department of Justice was renegging on that reassuring memo from the Obama administration in 2009, saying, "It was just a memo."
The feds already shut down a handful of dispensaries in the city last fall, using the tactic that they were all violating the statute by being within 1,000 feet of a school or park. But an expert in the field who spoke with us on condition of anonymity said that was only the beginning, and that it was likely only a matter of time before the 30 or so remaining permitted dispensaries and delivery services were shut down by force.
Gascon appears to be following in the footsteps of L.A. DA Steve Cooley, who ran against Kamala Harris for state Attorney General, and who has taken a similarly hard line against the sale of medical marijuana in any setting.
Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco just indefinitely suspended their permitting program for new dispensaries in January, until they could "receive assurance that [the city] is in compliance with state and federal law." And, like we said, a lot of the dispensaries who have most recently started receiving letters from the DOJ are keeping quiet about it, hoping for the best. But it doesn't look good.
After several years of such glorious ease of access and lovely retail experiences even, [medical] pot smokers are definitely going to start getting angry. Expect some major street-protest, at least in these parts, to start erupting this year.