Sweet Leaf undercover sting targeted budtenders for cannabis sales practices

, Sweet Leaf undercover sting targeted budtenders for cannabis sales practices

The Denver Police Department’s undercover sting operation targeting Denver-area Sweet Leaf marijuana dispensaries netted 13 arrests involving the retail chain’s employees, some of whom may face felony charges for alleged improper sales practices.

Many of those arrested were budtenders. They are accused of selling adult-use marijuana in amounts exceeding the 1-ounce limit allowed under state law, according to arrest documents provided by the Denver Police Department.

The police on Thursday shuttered all of Sweet Leaf’s Denver-area stores as part of a wide-ranging sting operation. Authorities initially said they had arrested a dozen employees and later revised that to 13.

Authorities also suspended 26 of the vertically integrated company’s licenses. Sweet Leaf has retail, cultivation and extraction licenses for both rec and medical marijuana products.

Sweet Leaf’s website lists 10 retail stores in the Denver area.  The Denver company also has a retail outlet in Portland, Oregon.

According to the arrest documents, Denver police sent undercover buyers and detectives into eight Sweet Leaf Denver-area dispensaries over the course of the year. They purchased multiple ounces of recreational marijuana in one day.

The arrest documents detail how buyers would enter the store and purchase an ounce of cannabis, put it in a car in the parking lot, and then reenter the store to make another purchase.

Buyers were allegedly able to purchase up to 16 ounces in one day. Some of the stings were conducted with the buyers wearing video recording devices.

Some of the employees have been charged with a felony for distribution of more than 4 ounces of marijuana, while others were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

No top Sweet Leaf executives were among those arrested.

The arrest affidavit states “the investigation was conducted to investigate whether, as reported by complaints, the Sweet Leaf store and the Sweet Leaf employees are in compliance with Colorado law concerning the sale of retail marijuana.”

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

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13 comments on “Sweet Leaf undercover sting targeted budtenders for cannabis sales practices
  1. kelly neale on

    So sad that the little guy once again is taking the fall for the company policy. These people were not rogue bud tenders. They were taking direction from corporate for this practice. The MED had cameras and watches what dispensaries do. Why didn’t they say anything. They also awarded Sweet Leaf licenses while this investigation was going on. When does this craziness end?1

  2. Ken Squire on

    Yes, sad to see things like this happen on any level – bad apples exist in every bunch. In the absence of vertical integration I proffer whether chain of custody gatekeepers would have made it more difficult for something like this to happen, or perhaps at least isolate and contain the “root” of the concern.

  3. Lyle Courtsal on

    See how it is that the stupids attack cannabis when alcohol is so much more damaging to the community? We had a saying; Overgrow the government and it worked too. So I don’t care about someone walking out with even 16 ounces of pot a day; how did the nazis push the deals? They are like degenerate used car salesmen doing that crap. One thing is for sure though; we are nowhere near meeting national demand yet; so go for it and DON’T GET CAUGHT. I got a friend who I told not to use the phone on large amounts; he used the phone and the keyword search caught him. He had been caught in the past at UPS. Sometimes if you get the feeling like they’re on to you and you need to take a break, DO IT.

  4. Lyle Courtsal on

    Two things that people really reject most times in corporate media to the point of censorship:
    1) The idea that cannabis has beneficial medical efficacy, and that people sometimes need it to survive.
    2) Osbourne spoke on consciousness expansion, you know, consciousness raising and was banned from the TED talks for the subject. It is on; awareness is the first step to healing and a new way of life.

  5. Concerned Citizen Stoner on

    Could you not go to multiple different stores each day and buy an ounce at each one? There are enough dispensaries in downtown Denver to get WAY more than 16 ozs. Basically, they busted the stores that specialized in LAZY customers…not the people who were exporting that weed to (probably) illegal states.

  6. Lawrence Goodwin on

    The Schedule I classification of “marihuana” is to blame for all such problems. For 47 years it has guaranteed the existence of giant “black markets,” which will be impossible to eliminate without a full repeal of that fraudulent federal law. Today, in 43 other states, there are massive cash rewards offered to individuals who choose to engage in such “illegal” purchasing practices (even though, in this case, the purchases were entirely set up by law enforcement in Colorado). I say Colorado police officials should instead demand an end to the relentless “marihuana” madness among the feds.

  7. Andrew J. Collier on

    Huge “illegal” purchases happen everyday in CO by in state and out of state folks. They travel from store to store. Easy, and no way for “regulators” to really enforce that type of scheme, as far as I’ve seen. I guess they have to look like they are in enforcement mode to appease the feds with “priorities,” and this was blatant.

  8. Tyler Durden on

    Wait … let me get this correct. I can go and buy enough alcohol to drown an elephant at Costco, but if I want more than an ounce of weed in one day, then someone is going to jail? What a great system we’ve allowed to be set up that punishes us at every turn! Are we ever going to overthrow the king or are we all just going to continue to bend over and take it for the sake of them blessing us with a permit we have to pay for anyway? What harm is there in buying a pound in a day? Someone remind me. Such rubbish.

  9. kelly neale on

    I think alot of people have missed the point of this. The people that went to jail were following the company policy. These people make minimum wage. They were following the corporate policy of Sweet Leaf. They were assured that this was legal practice. So punish a person for going to work and doing there job. This is all such a joke. I would guess that someone (sweet leaf) did not pay someone(DPD, MED, State of CO). Follow the money. Stop the madness

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      Here’s a crucial detail from the article, kelly, that you seem to miss: “The arrest documents detail how buyers would enter the store and purchase an ounce of cannabis, put it in a car in the parking lot, and then reenter the store to make another purchase.” (It implies that people can easily break Colorado’s “one ounce” possession law, as approved by voters, most likely for the purpose of supplying the illegal market in CO or other states—a completely separate mason jar of worms).

      No “company policy” in Colorado allows sales of multiple ounces of dried flower to the same customer in one day. Somebody at Sweet Leaf was not paying attention here (in security or management), causing the whole predicament for the “bud tenders.” But they also clearly failed to recognize the same faces, if the transactions were within minutes of each other as described.

      • kelly neale on

        Heres a crucial detail you missed lawrence. The budtenders were following there companies policy and they make minimum wage. This is not something that they decided to do on their own. The law states that you can buy and ounce in one transaction but does not specify what a transaction is. A day, a minute, an hour. It is very gray. Trust me security and management were well aware of what was going on. They assured these people that it was okay. If you think for one minute that someone higher up was not aware of this smoke some more.

  10. That Guy on

    To say it was “company policy” without having first hand knowledge is irresponsible and haphazard. Perhaps the people who were buying left a good tip and wink wink left them came back in again to buy and leave another tip. Who knows the real answer but guesses as to what happened are a dime a dozen.

  11. Dorthy Boatman on

    Everybody here is missing the point. Sweet Leaf did not break the law. The law does not define a single transaction. Even after an Attorney asked them to define single sale, they spouted the written vague statement that was written. The law was rewritten late last year but did not become law until January 2018. That is a AFTER the last undercover sale from that dispensary. Instead of all this blame and finger pointing and total devastation to many many people, why not point the blame exactly where it lies? That would be the Law. Wake up people. If you can’t see much less focus on the issue, get out of class.

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