Denver marijuana centers targeted by U.S. Attorney can move, but to where?
Letters from U.S. Attorney John Walsh tell owners of 23 medical marijuana centers that they must stop doing business within 45 days at their present location. MMJ lawyer Warren Edson says shops targeted in Denver will be able to move, but strict federal rules governing distances from schools will make finding new homes mighty tough.
If Walsh's missives had gone out a couple of months ago or more, Edson says MMC entrepreneurs would have been out of luck -- but then, "new city council rules passed to allow center owners to change location in Denver, as well as to change ownership in businesses.
"The long and the short of it is, they can move" in Denver, he goes on. "But they have to abide by the distance requirements set by local government and MMED" -- the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, the state agency that oversees the industry in the state. "And keep in mind that Denver isn't all of Colorado. These letters are going to hit the whole state, and each town has slightly different rules about whether you can move and how to move."
Denver center owners face other complications, too. Arguably the biggest involves the ways in which the federal government measures the 1,000 feet distance between schools and dispensaries. The U.S. Attorneys Office contends that the 23 operations that received letters are within that distance, but Edson says the federal government uses a different calculation than does Denver. "The city measures 1,000 feet as a pedestrian walks, from the front door of the center to the property line of the school," he points out. "But the feds count from property line to property line as the crow flies."
For that reason, he explains, "a center may be okay under Denver's rules, but property line to property line as the crow flies, they're not okay. So we have a local government deciding what distance requirements are appropriate and federal government deciding they know better and overriding those requirements."
Another area of concern: While Walsh's letter only cites schools, similar documents sent to medical marijuana businesses in California by U.S. Attorneys there required that shops be 1,000 feet from schools and parks -- and Edson thinks any Colorado MMC owner forced to move should stay 1,000 feet away from the latter, too, in case Walsh adds that restriction in the future. His blunt analysis: "If they add parks, oh shit."
Page down to learn about the shrinking options.