The owners of a Ukiah-area medical marijuana dispensary are scrambling to find a new home after their landlord received a letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office demanding they evict the business or risk losing the property.
The letter is part of a national wave of cease-and-desist notices sent by federal authorities to marijuana dispensaries and their landlords in California, Washington and Colorado. Marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law.
"I'm afraid I have no choice," said property owner Ed Busch, 86, of Ukiah.
Busch has rented a 5,000-square-foot building to the Compassionate Heart dispensary for the past four years. After he received a certified letter Monday and consulted his attorney, Busch said reluctantly handed his tenant a notice of eviction. He is sending a copy of the eviction notice to U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of California's northern district.
"I'm very sorry to do it because they're running a very legitimate business as far as the state of California is concerned," Busch said. "It's difficult for me to understand why we're living under two sets of laws."
<NO1><NO>The tenant declined to comment, saying he feared losing his bank account if he was identified.
<NO1><NO>A spokesman for Haag's office said he could not publicly discuss the letters.
A similar letter Haag sent to a San Jose dispensary warns a landlord that it is illegal to knowingly rent space for the purposes of "manufacturing, storing, distributing or using a controlled substance."
Many of the notices, like the letter sent to Ukiah, state that because the property is within 1,000 feet of a school, playground or day care center, which could bring stiffer penalties into play.
The Ukiah dispensary is around a rural block in unincorporated Ukiah from the Pinoleville Pomo Nation Head Start, which serves children from ages 3 to 5.