Feds announce Calif. pot dispensary crackdown

October 7, 2011 - 3:00 PM
Medical Marijuana

FILE - In this Tuesday Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, a pedestrian walks past a marijuana leaf neon sign advertising a medical marijuana provider along a street in the Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, Calif. Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on pot dispensaries in California, warning the stores that they must shut down in 45 days or face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state’s 15-year-old medical marijuana law. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Federal prosecutors in California are ordering dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries to shut down in 45 days and warning their owners and landlords they face criminal charges or seizure of their assets if they do not comply.

The state's four U.S. attorneys announced at a Sacramento news conference Friday that they have stepped up efforts to curtail both marijuana cultivation and retail sales of pot conducted under the cover of California's 15-year-old medical marijuana law.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, who represents California's Central Valley, said not all of the thousands of storefront pot dispensaries thought to be operating in the state are being targeted.

Instead, federal officials are initially going after pot shops located close to schools, parks, sports fields and other places where there are a lot of children and what Wagner termed "significant commercial operations." He said that includes farmland where marijuana is being grown.