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.