Feds: Pot dispensaries must shutdown in 45 days

FRESNO, Calif.

Dispensaries could face criminal charges and confiscation of their property even if they are operating legally under the state's 15-year-old medical marijuana law. Some county officials agree with the crackdown. But, medical marijuana users say it's a bad idea.

Fresno County is home to more than a dozen medical marijuana dispensaries. Thousands of Valley residents visit these collectives daily, including Gerry Goodman of Fresno.

Goodman said, "I feel comfortable going there, and it helps me very much."

Goodman says he suffers from migraines and chronic pain in his neck and arm. He fears shutting down dispensaries will encourage people to get the drug from illegal dealers.

Goodman said, "Don't just say we're gonna shut it down. We're American citizens, why shouldn't we have the right to say we have a side, you have a side, let's compromise."

In August, Fresno County's Board of Supervisors considered both sides of the issue. Ultimately, they passed an ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries and limiting grows to remote industrial areas. Dispensaries currently in operation have until March to shut down.

Board member, Debbie Poochigian hopes getting the feds involved will make those closures permanent.

Poochigian said, "The neighborhood dispensaries have really been detrimental in some of our residential areas. I'm please the federal government is coming in and doing what they're doing."

And while what they're doing is legal, an attorney who represents marijuana collectives tells Action News -- the federal government's decision will be met with a great deal of criticism.

Brenda Linder said, "They're going to come under fire politically, fiscally and healthcare wise, what they're taking away."

California's four US attorneys have already sent letters to at least 16 collectives. In them, they state, federal law takes precedence over state law.

The US attorneys are scheduled to announce their coordinated crackdown at a news conference in Sacramento on Friday.

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