by David Downs
According to California Watch, last week federal prosecutors threatened to sue Mendocino county, put county officials in jail, and confiscate county property if Mendocino continued to permit legal medical marijuana grows under its sheriff's office program.
"'They told the county to shut the program down," said one official who was briefed on the matter. The official said Melinda Haag, US attorney for California’s Northern District, gave the county two weeks to take action. A spokesman for Haag declined to comment, California Watch reported.
In a statement released by the Mendocino County counsel, Mendocino County Supervisor John McCowen said Haag is trying to destroy a regulated system in the name of doomed federal marijuana prohibition, which is creating chaos and funding drug cartels. "If the Federal government is not going to provide the resources to eradicate all the marijuana that they consider illegal, then they should not interfere with local regulatory efforts to protect public safety and the environment," McCowen stated.
"The 9.31 permit program created an above ground regulatory framework that balanced safe access to medical marijuana with public safety and environmental protection. ... the Federal crackdown will have the effect of driving medical marijuana back underground making it more illegal, profitable and dangerous."
Mendocino County has since paused its innovative cultivation permit program.