Threatened Marijuana Providers Want to Put Feds on Trial

Lawyering Up

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Oct 27, 2011  |  Updated 6:30 AM PDT
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Feds Offer Peek at $100M Pot Bust

Can the medical marijuana dispensaries threatened by Eric Holder's Justice Department put the government's laws on trial?

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The medical marijuana dispensaries threatened with closure by the federal government aren't all going away quietly. In fact, two medical cannabis providers plan to put the federal government itself on trial.

The United States Department of Justice sent letters to numerous dispensaries across the state of California -- nobody can really be sure how many, but at least four were sent to Bay Area dispensaries -- in late September, imposing a 45-day deadline to close up shop or face forfeiture of property as well as long prison sentences.

Several dispensaries in southern California have closed up shop, while at least two in the Bay Area have announced plans to close. But two others feel that this is the perfect opportunity to get a judge to rule on the nation's laws themselves.

Lynette Shaw, of the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Fairfax, feels that the federal laws which make marijuana illegal under any circumstances are "based on a lie," and if a judge is allowed to rule on them in court, he or she cannot do anything but overrule them.

Similarly, Stephen DeAngelo, the CEO of Oakland's Harborside Health Center, thinks that he can get a tax court to overturn the IRS's rule 280e, which prevents any medical marijuana dispensary from claiming the cost of marijuana on tax return forms.

No lawsuits have yet been filed.

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