As medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles continue to get more scrutiny, the criminal defense attorneys at the Sigal Law Group represent more and more clients who were prosecuted for criminal violations of existing marijuana laws.
If you are facing criminal charges as a result of operating a legal medical marijuana dispensary, you need an experienced defense attorney who knows the law and is not afraid to challenge the authorities, who are prosecuting what we believe to be legitimate business people for improper reasons.
When medical marijuana first became decriminalized in 1996, as a result of the California voters passing the Compassionate Use Act (also known as Proposition 215), there were a lot of questions about what marijuana dispensaries were and were not allowed to do. This persisted for over a decade as the law was still developing.
The Attorney General of California eventually issued guidelines that have become the framework for medical marijuana dispensaries operating in California. While the legal opinion contained several provisions in it, there was one aspect of that has led to current prosecutions. Cannabis dispensaries and collectives, while allowed to operate legally, cannot do so for a profit.
Until recently many dispensaries protected themselves from law enforcement scrutiny by establishing their companies as "not for profit entities" and not charging a price for their inventory but rather asking for a suggested donation from customers. While this may seem like "splitting hairs" and an exercise in futility, it has become the general norm for most dispensaries.
The tides are, however, changing for medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries and this provision of the law has become the source of prosecution or local authorities.
Sparked by concerns from local community groups, the Los Angeles County District Attorney and L.A. City Attorney have both gone public stating that they are now looking at dispensaries as criminal entities that operate outside the law and warned owners that they will be prosecuted for drug sales if they do not close or comply with State and local ordinances. The L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, the county's top prosecutor, has gone so far as to announce at a press conference that "the vast, vast, vast majority, about 100%, of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally, they are dealing marijuana illegally."
As a result, many arrests were made by local law enforcement agencies of dispensaries that were operating for a profit, or for at least what the government perceives as a profit. Don't forget that Los Angeles' new policy is not a result of an act of the legislature or the vote of the public but a result of the proclamation of a handful of civil servants that are now looking to enforce the laws as they interpret them.
More than ever, you need a medical marijuana attorney who is knowledgeable not just about current marijuana laws but also in fighting legal battles both before and after they occur.
This new policy will no doubt lead to the arrest and prosecution of many medical marijuana businesses within Los Angeles. It will also bring about many creative ways to challenge the new marijuana policy. At the Sigal Law Group that is exactly what we are prepared to do. We will fight for our clients rights not only to be free from prosecution but to be able to continue to operate a legitimate enterprise in Los Angeles.
Medical marijuana laws and policy are changing on an almost daily basis. Many dispensaries are now facing scrutiny from the city of Los Angeles for violating the city moratorium, while others continue to operate virtually the same business without any problems from the authorities. Still more are arrested and treated as drug dealers for operating a business that they believe to be legal based on the law.
The labyrinth of these laws runs deep and long. Only an experienced defense lawyer, that is truly abreast of the law, can help if you are facing scrutiny or, even worse, prosecution for operating a cannabis dispensary.
Many of these distressed cannabis dispensaries have turned to the Sigal Law Group for help. By keeping abreast of the ever changing laws we were able to keep regulators at bay, obtain city business licenses for our clients, get them to become compliant with current laws, and ultimiately allow them to continue to operate.
If you are a medical marijuana dispensary owner in Los Angeles or the surrounding areas, it is in your best interest to contact the criminal defense lawyers at the Sigal Law Group. Don't jeopardize your business or your freedom; contact the Sigal Law Group for a FREE consultation today.