Monday, August 2, 2010

Half of MMC owners have criminal records

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Update, Aug. 2, 1:20 p.m.: Though local statistics were not available, Special Agent Mike Turner said this in response to a question about a future agency action:

"It's just intelligence gathering. Obviously marijuana is still against the law federally, and part of our mission [is] we have to keep tabs on what is going on in the drug world to determine whether or not any of these dispensaries are connected to any cases we're involved in."

"We don't have a list, an official list, from the state of Colorado as to how many marijuana dispensaries are operating. These numbers were basically obtained by us just through open-source reporting in publications such as Westword, and other newspapers, and online directories that anybody has access to."

"The numbers that we came up are just the numbers that we were able to identify using that method, in addition verifying that they actually are open. We had identified 764 [centers] that were owned by 716 people."

— — —

Denver's 9NEWS reported yesterday that more than half of the medical marijuana center owners in Colorado have criminal arrest records, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been compiling records of owners and running background checks.

The DEA says 18 percent of medical marijuana center owners have been convicted of felonies.

The number is significant, as new laws detailed in May's House Bill 1284 mandate that anyone with a drug felony conviction, or a felony conviction within the last five years, be banned from owning and operating a center. With the state deadline for interim licensing set for Aug. 1, time is running out on roughly 200 felons-turned-MMC owners who are going to be forced to sell, or close.

The DEA also reports that 8 percent of Coloradans have previously been arrested for a drug-related crime, while 28 percent of center owners have.

Colorado Springs-specific statistics have been promised from the Denver field office later today; this post will be updated accordingly.

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