Cease-and-desist letters were sent to eleven Seattle area pot dispensaries because they are within 1,000 feet of schools or other prohibited areas, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration.
The DEA would not identify the businesses or their precise locations. Spokeswoman Jodie Underwood said they are in the greater Seattle area.
Despite Washington state’s new legal recreational pot law, enacted by voter-approved Initiative 502, all forms of marijuana remain illegal under federal law. A policy statement from the Obama administration is supposedly coming on the new legal pot laws in Colorado and Washington.
Underwood said the 11 dispensaries received the same letters that went to 23 local dispensaries last August. She said the letters, dated April 29, did not have implications for Washington and Colorado’s new laws.
“DEA enforces federal drug laws and these letters have nothing to do with any pending legislation or state law. The ballot initiatives in both states are under review by DOJ,” she said.
The letters warned dispensary operators and landlords that the pot businesses appear to be within 1,000 feet of a prohibited area, which tend to be places such as schools and playgrounds frequented by youth. The DEA told recipients of the letter to stop distributing marijuana within 30 days or face property seizure and forfeiture.
“As we continue to identify locations, additional letters will be sent out,” Underwood said.
The DEA sent letters to 63 dispensaries in Orange County, California last week. But a Department of Justice spokesman and California marijuana activists saw those actions as part of a continuing crackdown in Orange County rather than a signal of new federal policy in Colorado and Washington.
Last week a DOJ spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. responded to questions about legal pot with a terse statement: “The legalization initiatives in Washington and Colorado are still under review by the Department.”