The following is a statement from Matthew G. Barnes, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Seattle Division:
“Today, the DEA sent notifications to operators and property owners of publicly accessible marijuana storefronts to highlight potential criminal and civil penalties associated with the distribution of marijuana. These particular locations are close to schools and/or playgrounds and are operating in clear violation of federal and state law. Operation of any marijuana distribution storefront is illegal and undermines law enforcement’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing and trafficking of controlled substances to keep our citizens safe. This letter seeks voluntary compliance with the law to prevent future exposure to criminal prosecution and/or civil forfeiture proceedings. I am confident that once notified of the ramifications and penalties associated with renting a property for marijuana distribution purposes, property owners will take appropriate steps to rectify the situation on their own. The DEA will not turn a blind eye to criminal organizations that attempt to use state or local law as a shield for their illicit drug trafficking activities. Additional notifications will be sent as necessary with follow-up action taken as warranted in coordination with the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.”
Federal law, which prohibits the distribution, possession or manufacture of controlled substances, provides enhanced penalties when such activities occur near an educational facility or playground (21 U.S.C. § 860(a)). Furthermore, federal law makes it illegal to knowingly and intentionally rent or lease property for the purpose of unlawfully distributing, possessing or manufacturing a controlled substance (21 U.S.C. § 856(a)), and provides that real property used in such a manner can be forfeited to the United States (21 U.S.C. § 881(a)(7)).
A sample copy of the letter is attached to this press release.