Eviction Helps Marin Marijuana Club Dodge Feds

State Court Trumps Federal, For Once

By Chris Roberts
|  Wednesday, Nov 16, 2011  |  Updated 4:17 PM PDT
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Eviction Helps Marin Marijuana Club Dodge Feds

Open for business, eviction business.

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A Marin medical marijuana dispensary under threat from the federal government -- which gave Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana and four other Bay Area pot clubs 45 days to shut down or face stiff consequences -- is using an unlikely method to dodge the Justice Depatment's bullet.

Marin Alliance, the state's oldest continuously-operating storefront collective, received an eviction notice from its landlord last week, according to SF Weekly. That means that the dispensary is locked in civil court proceedings at the state level, according to founder Lynette Shaw, and while that's happening, the federales will stay away and she can continue distributing medical cannabis, she told media.

All other dispensaries which received letters from the federal government have shut down or relocated.

Whether Shaw's is a foolproof strategy or a foolish way to invite federal prosecution is not yet clear. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for the Justice Department, did not comment to the Marin Independent Journal or SF Weekly, the publications said.

In Shaw's case, both her landlord and the holder of the mortgage on the property, Chase Bank, received letters from US Attorney Melinda Haag, who said that if the dispensary was not shut down, the property would be forfeited and the owner subject to a 40-year prison term.

Shaw and other medical marijuana advocates sued the federal government last week, saying that a 2009 Justice Department memo was used in court to tell other state law-abiding dispensaries that they were immune to prosecution. Shaw is also fighting in court the IRS, which is asking the dispensary for millions in back taxes after ruling that the cost of medical marijuana could not be deducted from Marin Alliance's tax returns.
 

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