Santa Barbara is latest county to face federal pot crackdown
The widening federal crackdown on California’s medical marijuana industry reached Santa Barbara this week, with prosecutors filing forfeiture suits, executing search warrants, and sending warning letters related to more than a dozen growers and dispensaries.
Three civil forfeiture complaints were filed Wednesday targeting three collectives and farms in Santa Barbara County, including Miramar Collective in Summerland, which authorities estimate generated a profit of $840,000 in 2009. Two of the collectives are owned or operated by people who are being prosecuted for state narcotics charges, according to the release.
Warning letters were sent to people affiliated with 10 other dispensaries -– six in Santa Barbara, three in Goleta, and one in Summerland, authorities said.
The actions are the latest in a series of moves across the state by California’s four U.S. attorneys to clamp down on marijuana, including last month’s raid on high-profile activist Richard Lee in Oakland.
As part of the stepped up enforcement since October, federal prosecutors have taken similar measures in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. More than 150 marijuana stores and grows have been targeted, the majority of which are closed down or are being evicted by landlords, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.
-- Victoria Kim
Photo: Various strains of medical marijuana sit on a shelf inside a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles in 2009. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times