Smoke, meet fire
Last Thursday, the federal government made its first large-scale movement against Colorado's medical marijuana industry: U.S. Attorney John Walsh issued letters to 23 centers located within 1,000 feet of schools, telling them to close by late February or face potential criminal prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney M.J. Menendez of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, who helped prosecute Highlands Ranch grower Chris Bartkowicz, is coordinating the action.
Judy Negley, co-owner of downtown's Indispensary, is the only local owner we know of who's received a letter. "Nothing is an easy fix, but our first duty is to our patients and making sure they have safe access," she says, adding the center will move as soon as possible.
Don't expect much sympathy from the feds, though.
"This is the first step in a multi-wave law enforcement action," spokesman Jeff Dorschner told the Indy last week. "We've identified 23 dispensaries that are within 1,000 feet of a school; there are more. So we're going to address these first 23, then we'll assess a second wave and look at additional dispensaries near schools."
Dorschner wouldn't confirm how many the office is looking at, in total; whether the barrier would be expanded to include parks and playgrounds and the like; or what kind of charges center owners face. But he did have strong parting words.
"I know there are some people who have said that we're bluffing," Dorschner said Tuesday, regarding the requirement for centers to close within 45 days from Jan. 12. "And I can assure you that we're not."
As if the state's MMJ industry didn't have enough to deal with, the Denver Post reports that Republican state Sen. Steve King will attempt to revive last year's failed attempt to create a per se limit for people driving under the influence of marijuana. Last year's bill — which failed due to a lack of scientific evidence — put the limit at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. King may change that limit to zero.
A marijuana-per-se workgroup, convened in August as a subset of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which advises the state Legislature, declined to offer its own limit recommendation.
One center missed in our recent issue of ReLeaf was Amendment 20 (375-5610). The medicinal spot located at 2727 Palmer Park Blvd. offers 18 strains of marijuana, with its Purponics variation as a highlight. Besides receiving deals throughout the month, members receive pricing from $25 for eighths to $175 for ounces. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
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