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CA Rep. Barbara Lee To Protect Landlords of Medical Pot Dispensaries

CA Rep. Barbara Lee To Protect Landlords of Medical Pot Dispensaries

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 08/06/2012 in Marijuana Politics

Late yesterday, Congresswoman and Democratic Representative out of California, Barbara Lee, along with seven other initial co-sponsors, introduced HR 6335. HR 6335 or the States’ Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act, is a bill designed to stop the unfair land grabs conducted by the Department of Justice in pertinence to medical marijuana businesses such as the seizure of property from landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries.

The grand introduction of HR 6335 arrives less than a month after United States Attorney Melinda Haag served an asset forfeiture lawsuit against the landlord of the infamous Harborside Health Center. For those who do not know, Harborside Health Center is the main idea behind the hit show known as Weed Wars. The largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, Harborside is located in Representative Lee’s District of Oakland County. As the Department action was greatly opposed by Barbara Lee, it also sparked an outcry from California state and local officials such as the City Council’s members, the Board of Equalization, and the Oakland City Attorney. Also, on top of United State’s Attorney Melinda Haag actions upon Harborside, she has also threatened similar actions against a vast number of Bay Area property owners. Single-handedly in San Francisco alone, nine city-permitted dispensaries have been shut down just within the past few months.

For over a year now, the Justice Department has been threatening the landlords of state law-compliant medical marijuana dispensaries with assets forfeiture proceedings if they do not evict their tenants in a prompt and timely manner. These mere three hundred or so words have been sent to the owners of property across California, as well as in Colorado too, amongst other medical marijuana states. As the actual prosecution number may be far fewer, the intimidation caused by these department threats have resulted in the prompt closure of more than 400 medical marijuana dispensaries in California.

All aside, the introduction of HR 6335 is meant to prohibit the federal government from using it’s civil asset forfeiture statute, 21 U.S.C. 881(7), to go after real property owners if their tenants are within full compliance of all the state’s medical marijuana laws that have been set in place. However, the new law would at the same time not even closely prevent the Justice Department from using that very same civil asset forfeiture statute against real property owners that are in connection with conduct that is not sanctioned by their respective state’s law. As owners of these properties have an opportunity to retrieve any seized properties in civil court, they are not awarded many of the constitutional rights that are usually granted to criminal defendants such as the right to an attorney or the right to a jury trial. On top of all of that, the burden that comes along with having proof is on the property owner to show their innocence rather than the government having to prove them guilty.

Currently, nearly one in every three Americans lives in a state where medical marijuana laws are set in place, which equals out to around 100,000,000 people and only seventeen states and the District of Columbia have passed any laws in pertinence to authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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