By Kate Burgess
Q13 FOX News reporter
SEATTLE -- The United States Drug Enforcement Agency sent letters on Thursday to 23 medical marijuana storefronts located near schools, telling them to shut down or risk raids by federal agents.
The letters ordered all marijuana dispensaries operating within 1,000 feet of a school or playground to close shop within 30 days, warning them that the federal government could close them down and seize their assets if they did not comply.
The DEA said the letters were "part of an ongoing strategy to combat marijuana trafficking throughout the Seattle Field Division." The effort has been ongoing since November, 2011.
Cale Morgan, the director of a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary called Medicine Jar on 10326 Aurora Ave. N., said that before Thursday, he was providing safe and affordable access to cannabis. When he received a letter saying he was less than a thousand feet from a small private school run by the Epic Life Church, he didn't know what to do.
"It was a little upsetting," Morgan said, noting he had partnered with Epic Life on various community service projects. "There was some unrest among us and the rest of the volunteers."
The Medicine Jar's 1700 members will now have to get their medicine elsewhere. Medicine Jar, along with 22 other shops, will have to find new venues or shut down for good. United States Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said in a statement that federal and state government alike need "to enforce one message for our students: drugs have no place in or near our schools.”
A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences found that IQ dips in adults who regularly smoked pot as teens. Marijuana advocate John Davis said the study actually strengthens the argument for legalizing cannabis.
"If you're worried about a study with kids and marijuana keep the marijuana away from kids," Davis said. "The only way to do that is by regulating it."
Morgan agreed that regulation would do more to push marijuana out of kids' hands.
"It's important to make sure that there's safe, affordable access to cannabis," Morgan said.
By Kate Burgess