Medical marijuana dispensaries in Spokane face federal prosecution if they do not end their operations immediately, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
Federal authorities hope for voluntary compliance but are prepared “for quick and direct action against the operators of the stores,” according to a statement by Mike Ormsby, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.
Federal authorities will target both the operators of the stores and the owners of the properties where the stores are located, he said.
The Obama Administration’s stated policy for states like Washington that have medical marijuana laws has been that U.S. Attorneys should only get involved in enforcing the federal marijuana prohibition if people aren’t following the state laws. So while Ormsby is technically following the directive, it’s the timing that’s curious. Our legislature is currently working to make the dispensaries legal, and Spokane isn’t the only city with dispensaries in limbo. In fact, most urban areas in Washington already have dispensaries that serve patients. So why Spokane? And why now?
What makes this even more curious is the fact that we have a looming government shutdown this week. And while much of the work of the Justice Department continues during a shutdown, those offices have to scale back their workload. In light of those circumstances, what in the hell was Ormsby thinking?