DA to Feds: ‘No Reasonable Basis’ for Targeting Compliant Colorado Marijuana Dispensaries

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Medical cannabis centers in Colorado have a new ally in Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, who this week asked the federal government to “back away” from MMJ businesses that are in compliance with local regulations.

Garnett sent a letter to the top federal attorney in Colorado questioning the Obama administration’s moves to shut down some marijuana dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws. The letter probably won’t sway the government, but it does give the medical cannabis industry in Colorado some additional support from a prominent official. And the MMJ industry could use all the support it can get.

Garnett wrote that the government has issued “repeated and sometimes conflicting messages” about its position on medical marijuana over the past few years, adding that he doesn’t think federal officials should spend time going after MMJ businesses in compliance with Colorado laws.

“Although it is certainly possible for federal authorities to engage in high profile prosecutions and seizure of medical marijuana, I see
no reasonable basis for doing so if the target is a dispensary that is otherwise compliant with state statutes and local regulation,” Garnett wrote in the letter to U.S. District Attorney John Walsh.

The letter goes on to say that the medical marijuana industry contributes significant tax dollars to the state and that the regulations are working as intended.

“As the industry has developed and adapted to Colorado’s statutory and local land use and regulatory schemes, I have watched a maturing business that pays substantial tax revenue fit within the fabric of this community,” Garnett wrote. “Thus, my office has developed the firm
position that there is no role for criminal enforcement against a medical marijuana dispensary if it is complying with Colorado’s statutory framework and local land use regulations.”

Nearly two dozen dispensaries in Colorado recently closed after receiving warning letters from the federal government ordering them to shut down or relocate. The government said the dispensaries were located too close to schools, even though they were compliant under state laws.

Federal officials have indicated that they plan to send out more letters to other dispensaries in the coming weeks.