Weekly Wrapup: Colorado in Federal Crosshairs, Arizona Chooses Side in MMJ Lawsuit

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Medical pot dispensaries in Colorado have had a relatively calm fall, operating under the radar while watching the federal cannabis crackdown on the West Coast from afar.

The winter might be a bit more turbulent.

Last week, we wrote about how the federal government is considering a medical pot crackdown in Colorado. Sources said the feds will send out warning letters to dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of schools, telling them to close, move to another area or face prosecution.

Dozens of dispensaries – if not more – could be affected. And the impact will be great: Some of these medical cannabis centers simply can’t afford to move, given that they just shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to comply with new state regulations that took effect in July. Most dispensaries are covered in red ink from these expenses, and a forced move could put them out of business.

At this point, it’s unclear how far the government will go in Colorado. Some reports said the feds have already decided to launch a crackdown in the state, while others say they are considering it. Either way, it’s put the entire industry on edge. Colorado has been cited across the country as a prime example of how to set up a medical pot industry. The state’s strict oversight and regulatory framework seemed to be a shield against a federal crackdown.

But that might not be the case. If the government does indeed set its sights on Colorado, no dispensary in any state will be safe.

The other big development last week came in Arizona, where a judge overseeing an MMJ lawsuit filed by the state forced
Gov. Jan Brewer to take an official position on the case. Brewer filed the suit against the federal government, demanding that it clarify its stance on states with medical pot laws. But she didn’t say which side of the fence she stands on, as coming out for or against medical marijuana could have long-lasting repercussions politically.

We finally got the answer (though it wasn’t unexpected): Brewer thinks that federal laws trump Arizona’s medical marijuana regulations. If the judge agrees, we likely won’t see dispensaries in Arizona anytime soon. Hopefully the statewill get some resolution on the issue.

Here are some of our other top stories from last week:

#1. Colorado patient numbers drop

#2. Several state MMJ chiefs resign, reassigned

#3. Suit filed against Seattle’s cannabis regulations

#4. Webcast series shines spotlight on medical pot

#5. Would cannabis legalization benefit MMJ industry?