Indictment of Colorado Dispensary Owner for MMJ Diversion Couldn’t Have Come at Worse Time

Earlier this month, the government released a study claiming that large amounts of medical marijuana from Colorado are ending up in the wrong hands. The report pegged the problem squarely on the shoulders of dispensary owners, MMJ workers and patients who are abusing the medical cannabis system.

We warned that the government and cannabis opponents could use the study to intensify a crackdown on medical marijuana in Colorado, even though the methodology and objectiveness of the report are highly questionable.

Unfortunately, a development this week will most certainly bolster the study’s central argument.

The office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers has accused local dispensary owner Leon Cisneros of helping to ship 40 pounds of marijuana to other states, part of a 59-count indictment against 11 individuals. Cisneros – who founded The Silver Lizard dispensary on the edge of downtown Denver – also was charged with tax fraud.

From the indictment: “Mr. Cisneros used his position as owner and high managerial agent of The Silver Lizard, LLC,” to illegally distribute marijuana in violation of Colorado’s medical cannabis laws.

This is exactly what the industry doesn’t need right now. The indictment of a dispensary owner for diversion of medical marijuana – the very actions highlighted in the study – makes it harder for everyone else to refute the findings.

This will no doubt fuel the anti-MMJ fire and could give local and federal officials another reason to target the medical cannabis industry in Colorado (where dozens of dispensaries have been forced to close due to federal pressure on their landlords). At the very least, it represents a small setback for every dispensary owner out there who strives for legitimacy on a daily basis.

Perhaps the comment one observer made on The Silver Lizard’s Facebook page sums it up best: “Idiots. Thanks for giving the industry another black eye.”