Teamwork helping to eliminate medical marijuana dispensaries, official says |

Teamwork helping to eliminate medical marijuana dispensaries, official says

Wheeler Cowperthwaite

RENO –Los Angeles has near 1,000 medical marijuana dispensaries, depending on who is counting. Las Vegas has already shut off of its dispensaries down.

What has happened down south and in Southern California may be a portend of things to come for Northern Nevada, speakers at the Nevada Drug Summit told law enforcement, activists and educators and members of the community Monday.

Las Vegas native Joe Esposito, director of the Bureau of Specialized Prosecutions out of the District Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said he wants to see different law and order agencies working together to shut down dispensaries.

California, Esposito said, is a perfect example of how the medical marijuana ball was dropped.

The city, despite efforts to cap the number of dispensaries, still is struggling to shut them down, but teamwork on the part of federal, state and local governments can be the key to shutting down dispensaries, he said.

Kent Bitsko, the executive director of the Nevada High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas, said working together was the point of his organization and stressed that the key to defeating marijuana legalization measures lies in “getting unlikely groups to work together.”

For Esposito, those groups are the U.S. Attorney General and his own office, which working in conjunction, are able to force landlords to evict marijuana dispensaries from their properties or else have their properties seized, Esposito said.

Bitsko said when his organization works on something, they try to get as many agencies together as they can.

“You get as many participating as you can,” he said.

The teamwork is paying off, 26 fold, he said.

“There are $26 coming in for every dollar spent” in terms of seized drugs and cash, Bitsko said.

His agency works to be a force multiplier with a goal of curbing drug trafficking. Bitsko’s operation works in two places – both in Clark and Washoe counties.

Those operations this year have netted 18 kilograms of heroin, he said, compared with a single kilogram seized in 2007.