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U.S. Tells California's Pot Shops To Close Down, Or Face Charges

Pot dispensaries have flourished in California, one of 16 states where the use of medical marijuana is legal. But the federal government is now giving some of the state's pot shops 45 days to close down.

The state's four U.S. attorneys gave notice to at least 16 stores that they must close, or face criminal charges and the seizure of their property, according to the Associated Press.

The letters likely stem from a Department of Justice memo sent to U.S. attorneys, instructing them that people "who are in the business of cultivating, selling or distributing marijuana, and those who knowingly facilitate such activities, are in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, regardless of state law."

The AP obtained some of the letters sent to pot dispensaries this week, which reportedly state that federal law "takes precedence over state law... and applies regardless of the particular uses for which a dispensary is selling and distributing marijuana."

Greg Anton, a lawyer for a pot dispensary in Marin, Calif., tells the AP that the shop's owner "has been paying state and federal taxes for 14 years, and they have cashed all the checks."

"All I hear from Obama is whining about his budget," Anton said, "but he has money to do this — which will actually reduce revenues."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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