Calif. braces for medical marijuana crackdown

Thousands of medical marijuana outlets in California are bracing for a federal crackdown. Prosecutors say the shops are doing more than just helping their patients.

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports that, for Justice Department officials, the photographs of marijuana being sold in lollipops and candy show the problem with California's medical marijuana law.

"Where there's marijuana there's money. And lots of it," said Melinda Haag, U.S. Attorney for Northern California. "People are using the cover of medical marijuana to make extraordinary amounts of money. In short, (they're) engaged in drug trafficking."

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Medical marijuana has been legal in California since voters approved it in 1996. Fifteen other states now have similar laws, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Now federal officials have sent warning letters to dozens of California dispensaries telling them to shut down or risk arrest and property seizure.

Lynnette Shaw has been given 45 days to close the dispensary she has run for 14 years.

"It's so mean, it's so inhumane that I'm broken hearted and I'm appalled and I'm shocked. And i'm righteously indignant," Shaw said.

Shaw, who operates in Fairfax, a northern California town of about 8,000, says she doesn't just help the sick, she pays taxes.

"We're the number three sales tax contributor to our town. We are a very good resource for the community," Shaw said.

But federal officials say California has become a source of marijuana that is now shipped across the country.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.

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