Marijuana retail chain operator Sweet Leaf forced to shut down in Denver area

(This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. ET Thursday.)

Sweet Leaf, one of Colorado’s largest marijuana retail chain operators, had all of its Denver-area stores shuttered Thursday as part of police raids that resulted in 12 arrests.

Twenty-six of the vertically integrated company’s licenses have been suspended, according to Dan Rowland, spokesman for the Denver Department of Excise and Licensing.

The Denver Police Department and other agencies executed search and arrest warrants on eight marijuana retail stores across the metro area.

The operation is the result of an extensive, year-long criminal investigation into illegal distribution of marijuana at those locations, according to a news release.

The alleged criminal actions are related to the sale of marijuana in excess of allowable amounts established by Amendment 64.

The Colorado statute allows for the personal use of marijuana, specifically the possession, use, display, purchase and transport of 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

Officers arrested 12 suspects who are currently being held for Investigation of Illegal Distribution of Marijuana.

The suspects’ names, booking photos and arrest documents weren’t immediately available because the operation and booking process are still underway.

Sweet Leaf said it was “surprised” by the raids.

In a statement to Westword, a Denver alternative weekly, the company said:

“It is unclear at this point exactly what actions, if any, Sweet Leaf took to cause the city to issue this order. Sweet Leaf is cooperating with the authorities to resolve this issue and hopes to have all of their stores back in operation as soon as possible.”

Sweet Leaf’s website lists 10 recreational and medical marijuana retail stores in Denver.  Sweet Leaf also has a retail outlet in Portland, Oregon.

In addition, the Denver-based company operates cultivation facilities.

Rowland said Ashley Kilroy, the licensing director for the department, signed the order of summary suspension.

The official order states that Kilroy reviewed an investigation by Denver police and found:

“Reasonable grounds and probable cause exists to believe that Respondents have engaged in deliberate and willful violations of state and local laws or regulations, and/or that the public health, safety, and welfare requires emergency action.”

The company, which boasted over 350 employees in April, had revenue of $60 million in 2016.

Bart Schaneman can be reached at [email protected]

21 comments on “Marijuana retail chain operator Sweet Leaf forced to shut down in Denver area
      • D on

        This wasn’t the Feds it was all state enforcement. They have been fully ignoring the limit laws for a very long time. You could sit outside and watch people go in and out to their car getting ounce after ounce.

        Reply
      • Big Electric Cat on

        I believe the Feds will allow free trade eventually. Until then, this is not about the Feds. This appears to be a failure to comply with state regulations. My question is, when will industry behave in an above-board manner?

        Reply
    • Kc on

      Its not the cbd industry its the government. I swear they act like cannibis is the worst thing ever. They make every law super strict then when they do follow the rules they pick on something super small. And shut down a facility. They shut down more legal cannabis shops then they do pill mills.

      Reply
      • Tara Marchbank on

        Sweet leaf employee’s were selling multiple lbs of product to people daily. They sold 9 oz to an undercover cop in one day. They most definitely were in the wrong.

        Reply
  1. Jose in Denver on

    I have personally witnessed Sweet Leaf 38th bust a couple people doing this,( referring to the comment about watching the parking lot and seeing people going back for more) every budtender I have ever done business with there, have been extremely vigilant on making sure that only the legal amount was sold. It’s a shame that you can buy copious amounts of liquor and the law says nothing. If these racist assbackward fuckshits that are in charge of our Federal government who seem to think that raping little girls is fine behavior and smoking herb is “deviant “, would wake the fuck up…

    Reply
    • Alice on

      The one on 38th had horrible customers. All the people going there would block driveways, throw trash on the lawns, park in the handicap spot.

      Reply
  2. sharon schiller on

    Hey Guys, Remember to think KIND THOUGHTS, SAY KIND WORDS and DO GOOD. Also, lets try and MAKE AMERICA KIND AGAIN and that starts right here today with you. Lets all try to do better. What can be helpful to all of us is for everyone to do their part and follow whateva rules we hafta. Thats how society works, one for all and all for one.

    Reply
  3. William Clark on

    A little respect for history, please. No one should promote the canard that marijuana is dangerous–inherently toxic–like pharmaceutical drugs. Marijuana is not a ‘drug’, unless we lean heavily on Merriam-Webster’s third and broadest definition, as something that affects the mind. By that definition, religion and television (‘the plug-in drug’) should also be included. In truth marijuana is a medicinal herb, cultivated, bred, and evolved in service to human beings over thousands of years.

    “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting people to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, break up their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” –John Ehrlichman

    Activists have since found that some alcoholics are using marijuana to escape their addictions to The Demon Rum. Here prohibition of cannabis has been built on a tissue of lies: Concern For Public Safety. Our new laws save hundreds of lives every year, on our highways alone. In November of 2011, a study at the University of Colorado found that in the thirteen states that decriminalized marijuana between 1990 and 2009, traffic fatalities dropped by nearly nine percent—now nearly ten percent in Michigan—more than the national average, while sales of beer went flat by five percent. No wonder Big Alcohol opposes it. Ambitious, unprincipled, profit-driven undertakers might be tempted too.

    In 2012 a study released by 4AutoinsuranceQuote revealed that marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users, as “the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving”, which “is arguably a positive thing”.

    No one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana. It’s the most benign ‘substance’ in history. Most people—and particularly patients who medicate with marijuana–use it in place of prescription drugs or alcohol.

    Marijuana has many benefits, most of which are under-reported or never mentioned in American newspapers. Research at the University of Saskatchewan indicates that, unlike alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or Nancy (“Just say, ‘No!’”) Reagan’s beloved nicotine, marijuana is a neuroprotectant that actually encourages brain-cell growth. Researchers in Spain (the Guzman study) and other countries have discovered that it also has tumor-shrinking, anti-carcinogenic properties. These were confirmed by the 30-year Tashkin population study at UCLA.

    Drugs are man-made, cooked up in labs, for the sake of patents and the profits gained by them. Often useful, but typically burdened with cautionary notes and lists of side effects as long as one’s arm. ‘The works of Man are flawed.’

    Marijuana is a medicinal herb, the most benign and versatile in history. In 1936 Sula Benet, a Polish anthropologist, traced the history of the word “marijuana”. It was “cannabis” in Latin, and “kanah bosm” in the old Greek and Hebrew scrolls, quite literally the Biblical Tree of Life, used by early Christians to treat everything from skin diseases to deep pain and despair. Why despair? Consider the current medical term for cannabis sativa: a “mood elevator”. . . as opposed to antidepressants, which ‘flatten out’ emotions, leaving patients numb to both depression and joy.

    The very name, “Christ” translates as “the anointed one”. Well then, anointed with what? It’s a fair question. And it wasn’t holy water, friends. Holy water came into wide use in the Middle Ages. In Biblical times, it was used by a few tribes of Greek pagans. And Christ was neither Greek nor pagan.

    Medicinal oil, for the Prince of Peace. A formula from the Biblical era has been rediscovered. It specifies a strong dose of oil from kanah bosom, ‘the fragrant cane’ of a dozen uses: ink, paper, rope, nutrition. . . . It was clothing on their backs and incense in their temples. And a ‘skinful’ of medicinal oil could certainly calm one’s nerves, imparting a sense of benevolence and connection with all living things. No wonder that the ‘anointed one’ could gain a spark, an insight, a sense of the divine, and the confidence to convey those feelings to friends and neighbors.

    Don’t want it in your neighborhood? Maybe you’re not the Christian you thought you were.

    Me? I’m appalled at the number of ‘Christian’ politicians, prosecutors, and police who pose on church steps or kneeling in prayer on their campaign trails, but cannot or will not face the scientific or the historical truths about cannabis, Medicinal Herb Number One, safe and effective for thousands of years, and celebrated as sacraments by most of the world’s major religions.

    Reply
    • FloridaLandOfProhibition on

      I don’t get it. Colorado limits sales to 1 ounce per “sales transaction.” I, too, have heard of responsible Sweet Leaf budtenders refusing to sell to customers who bought, went to their car, and then came right back in the store. But if the customer leaves the parking lot and returns later, even minutes later, that’s a new “sales transaction” and perfectly legal. I do not see how these charges stick. (I also have heard, but haven’t confirmed, that beginning Jan. 1, 2018, Colorado will limit sales to 1 ounce per day. If so, it seems the police arrested people for violating a law that doesn’t yet exist.) Also, it seems very odd that the first purchases by undercover cops were in February but arrests were not made until mid-December. It almost seems like someone in authority is intentionally trying to harm Sweet Leaf’s business.

      Reply
  4. Mandy on

    I’m kinda glad it’s closed. I was all for the legalization of weed but the people who always went to the Sweet Leaf on 38th just made me want the whole thing to shut down.

    I’ve lived in that neighborhood most of my life and when Sweet Leaf was opened, I can’t tell you how many times we had to call police due to idiots blocking driveways and preventing people from being able to leave or parking in a handicap spot all day. They were also throwing trash all over the yards, harrassing some of the kids (mostly girls and young women) who lived on the street and just making it feel unsafe. Seriously, one guy wanted to fight this poor girl who was carrying a pizza home because she wouldn’t give him any of it.

    Sweet Leaf has been the only place I wanted to close down. Now that it is, I feel a little better for my vote.

    Reply
  5. Thorby Baslim on

    Too bad pot hasn’t been legalized in Colorado or anywhere else. Tomato model people.
    This highly regulated model has led to higher prices than the black market at the dispensaries and very low prices to the growers

    Reply
  6. Ryan on

    I’ve been to sweet leaf and they do not sell anyone more than what’s allowed. I even told them but I have my card and they told me that they are just a rec place so even though I could legally buy 2 ounces they wouldn’t sell me more. I also was there once and watched security watching a customer who was trying to come back in and the security officer refused there return. This has to be complete bull shit and an attempt at getting this place shut down and I bet other dispensaries are happy that they are closed. Think about it they don’t want power to transfer to a top selling dispensary and sweet leaf had the power to shut down other places because they had the best prices. Other dispensaries couldn’t compete with sweet leaf. I truly believe they are not liked and I’m sure other dispensaries complained about them to authorities. This place got set up. There’s absolutely no way they were selling more then they were allowed and it’s not illegal to buy the limit leave go home then come back so it makes me wonder how many people were lying saying they took their product home. It’s hard from a retail point of view to say no especially when they are trying to make a living just like a liquor store. It’s bull shit they have it so regulated that it’s impossible to comply. Just legalize it. It’s not any more a danger to the public then pills or alcohol. People were so indoctrinated about weed that the ones that are against it are people who don’t smoke that still believe marijuana is bad. Life’s hard, so what if some of us wanna go home and smoke a bowl instead of drinking at a bar after a rough day at work. Just let the people smoke their weed they aren’t hurting anyone. Leave sweet leaf alone you are a tyrant US government.

    Reply
  7. Ryan on

    I wonder how much money it’s going to take for them to reopen. It’ll probably gonna cost them millions in the process but the authorities are going to bank off of this. The department of revenue are probably celebrating all the way to the bank. Nothing more corrupt then to know that the government just wants their cut or they will shut them down.

    Reply

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