Fresno County sheriff urges tough marijuana enforcement at drug trafficking conference

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County's sheriff is taking her fight against medical marijuana to Washington, D.C. Margaret Mims is addressing the annual High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Conference this week.

The sheriff and her deputies have enforced federal and local laws against all forms of marijuana with vigor -- uprooting thousands of plants in marijuana grows every year, whether they comply with the state law allowing medical marijuana or not. From Washington, D.C. she told Action News many supposed medical marijuana grows are fronts for dealers.

"It is not about the medicine; it's about the money," said Mims.

And Mims says she will address the frustration local law enforcement has with the Justice Department's recent announcements they will not to go after marijuana users who are complying with state laws even if they are in violation of federal law. Mims has relied on federal laws as a reason for her crackdowns.

"We need to see the federal government step up and make a decision on whether or not they are going to keep marijuana as a schedule 1 drug. As long as it is, it will continue to be illegal federally, which creates confusion and makes it very difficult for local law enforcement to do their job," she said.

Local defense attorney Brenda Linder has challenged many of the sheriff's department's cases and has several lawsuits pending against Fresno County over its medical marijuana crackdowns. She believes full legalization is coming and that Mims and Fresno County are on the wrong path.

"It's going to happen one way or another, and it's going to become legalized in California," said Linder. "And the longer that they fight it here, the further back in regulations they are going to get."

Linder says local authorities need to work on legal regulation, rather than prohibitions, which opens the doors to drug cartels.

"It's increasing criminal activity, not diminishing it," she said.

But Mims says her job is to keep citizens safe and believes marijuana growing creates danger.

"It's drug trafficking plain and simple, and that's what we need to stop," she said.

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