Medical marijuana: 23 dispensaries targeted by U.S. Attorney only "first wave"

Thumbnail image for john walsh.JPG
John Walsh.
Update: U.S. Attorney John Walsh's letter to 23 medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, which threatens seizure and forfeiture if they don't stop operating within 45 days, is a blow to the state's MMJ industry. And spokesman Jeff Dorschner stresses that it won't be the only one. "This is a first wave," he says, adding that there'll be "a second wave, and maybe a third wave and a fourth wave, and on down the line."

christian thurstone.jpg
Christian Thurstone.
As noted in our original coverage, on view below, memos written by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden and Deputy Attorney General James Cole direct federal law-enforcers not to expend scarce resources prosecuting MMJ operations that follow the law in states where medical marijuana has been legalized -- and presumably, most, if not all, of the targeted centers do. However, Dorschner maintains that Walsh's action fits within the parameters of the memos, which give U.S. Attorneys what he calls "a fair amount of discretion" to establish enforcement-action priorities. And he sees dispensaries near schools as filling that bill.

"The U.S. Attorney feels strongly that protecting minors from Schedule I narcotics is important," Dorschner says. "There are studies that show the use of marijuana has increased in teenagers" since Colorado voters approved MMJ via Amendment 20 in 2000. "And there are studies that demonstrate that the use of marijuana in teenagers has impacted their cognitive abilities."

Dorschner cites the work of 2010 Westword interviewee Christian Thurstone, a Denver Health doctor and longtime critic of marijuana use among young people. Thurstone provided the U.S. Attorney's Office with the following info:

• In 2008/2009, past month marijuana use for 9-12 graders in Adams County was 19%. In 2009/2010 it was 22% and in 2010/2011 it was 30% (www.acyi.org)

• In 2008/2009, the number of school expulsions for drug use was 534. In 2009/2010 it was 753. In 2010/2011 it was 767 (http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdereval/rv2011sdiincidents.htm). This represents a 40% increase in 1 year. It is widely known that the vast majority of these expulsions are for marijuana use.

• My paper in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence clearly documents widespread diversion of medical marijuana to youth in substance treatment -- 49% report ever getting marijuana from someone with a medical marijuana license. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21565453)

• Emma.Maki...just presented a study at the annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Public Health Society showing that 79% of teens in substance treatment "have ever used someone else's medical marijuana."

In Dorschner's view, "there's a federal interest to protect our children from this Schedule I drug that harms their ability to learn" -- one defined in statute by U.S. Code 21 Section 860. Under the heading "Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools and colleges," It states that anyone "distributing, possessing with intent to distribute, or manufacturing a controlled substance" within 1,000 feet of educational facilities is subject to "twice the maximum punishment" for a similar offense elsewhere.

robert fisher picture of a dispensary display.jpg
But is there any evidence that any Colorado centers have been cited for providing marijuana to minors -- a fairly common occurrence when applied to alcohol purveyors like bars and liquor stores? Dorschner doesn't confirm or deny the existence of such cases. However, he says such commercial enterprises "are certainly an influence, being so close to a school" and points to Maki's study suggesting that "students are getting marijuana both out the front door and out the back door" of dispensaries.

When asked if these factors trump the Ogden and Cole memos' advice about allowing MMCs that follow state law to continue operating without encumbrance, he replies, "I think that's a safe assumption."

Because the U.S. Attorneys Office investigation into the 23 centers is ongoing, Dorschner declines to either name the businesses that have received Walsh's letters or specify their locations beyond saying that the majority are in the Denver area. In his words, this policy is "as much to protect them as it is to protect the integrity of the investigation."

And the investigations that follow. Dorschner warns against assuming that only 23 centers in Colorado are within 1,000 feet of schools. "There are more," he says. "Many more."

Page down to read our original coverage, including a redacted letter to a dispensary.


My Voice Nation Help
123 comments
lilbit_of_hope06
lilbit_of_hope06

I am so proud there others out that feel as I do the drug works better than made concoctions!.

tgtree11
tgtree11

We have recently begun to accept new members for 2011-2012 and walk-ins are always welcome. We have lowered our pricing and now offer a 10% discount for Veterans & Students (with valid ID) and HIV & Cancer patients.  (All our TOP SHELF 1/8’s are capped at $40).  Since opening our doors in 2009 our Denver dispensary has stood by our product and offered a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. http://www.tgtree.com/

FREEDOM WILL RING
FREEDOM WILL RING

WALSH,Most everyone I know that has a red card, has a lot of respect for the laws and they are very happy to be able to have it. They respect the right to use MMJ, and they don't want to take any chances to lose that right. So this is why dispensaries should be left alone. It keeps marijuana out of the hands of dangerous criminals, which is where kids would get marijuana. Just think about what you are doing and realize how freaking stupid it is.

ThanksI would leave my name but its the internet and who knows these days... 

freedom
freedom

if any kid gets marijuana, I can promise you......it won't be from a dispensary, it will be from the streets. No patients with a red card would risk there right to use marijuana just to sell to another. 

Freedom
Freedom

Just another lame reason to take peoples freedoms. Not like the kids are gonna go to the dispensary. Kinda stupid if you ask me. But its an understandable reason to move the shops else where. I just feel like its going to get worse and more lame laws will come about. Lets just stop fighting and let people live if they aren't hurting anyone then whats the prob? People have it to damn good these days they fight over the dumbest things possible. How did pot get such a bad name? It's one of the most natural substances that helps so many with so much. Not to mention it is a very enjoyable activity just as alcohol is. People in America are missing out big time, its legal in most free countries other than ours. What is this a damn dictatorship? I'm starting to wonder.

Ryan
Ryan

If anybody from CO would like to discuss doing business in Arizona our Rules just opened up the application process to out of State residents.  You can contact me through my firm Rose Law Group

Jamesh Gee
Jamesh Gee

Corperate Prohibitition,because of competition,leads to curruption at the highest levels of state and fed.type govts.

bcainw
bcainw

This is why you need to write in my name for president in 2012.  Get the word out.  Hey if we don't have a majority by November vote for someone else.  But if we do . . . watch out.  LOL.

New Candidate for 2012 Presidency wants a “Green Economy” Based on Marijuanahttp://www.newageciti...

Guest
Guest

Note to FEDS: Bring it on Bitach's!!!

Joe the Plumber
Joe the Plumber

it is the big picture,Colorado has shut down the Mexican cartels pot business in Colorado,that cuts into Mr Walsh's payola,cant have that,Colorado hurting the cartels,big pharma,and alcohol sales,follow the money and you will find the reasons

Frank
Frank

Thank God for the 1,000 foot limit. No student would walk 1,001 feet to buy marijuana.

and they can't buy it anyway. Even if they go that extra foot.

Either make it legal or shut down the clinics/dispensaries. Obama and the DEA need to make up their minds.

ZZardozz
ZZardozz

I hate to say it, but the notion that Colorado's MMJ program is so tightly run, with all kinds of special rules, would keep the feds from messing with them, and that California deserves it for having such loose rules, is just wishful thinking.  They are actually targeting the most well run collectives, because they are well known.  That is why we have to simply go for full legalization at this point, because they will not respect the law that the people voted for.  If they WOULD HAVE respected MMJ rights, I might not be for a full legalization yet.  But the only solution for this is to legalize and let the feds enforce their laws by themselves. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

"But Julie Postlethwait stresses that her office will cooperate with the feds and hand over any paperwork needed [to the DEA] ..."

LOL! ... the greedy, delusional pot dispensary clowns have been supplying criminal evidence against themselves to the MMED ... and PAYING $1000s for the privilege of self-incrimination !

Remember, under Federal law -- for which there is NO MMJ defense -- cultivation of over 100 plants, or possession/sale of 100+ lbs gets a MANDATORY 5 year prison sentence.

Do that within 1000 feet of a school and the prison sentence is 10 years MINIMUM!

Surpass the 1000 plant cultivation count and the base MINIMUM is 10 years in Prison, and 20 years if within a school zone!

And those are CUMULATIVE totals, so all those "seed to sale" tracking reports that dispensary owners have been supplying MMED for each month will be TOTALED when the Feds bring charges -- 200 plants in the warehouse x 5 harvests = 10 years MINIMUM in Prison. 

No defense, no hope, no appeal.

That Rob Corry sure talks tough with other people's lives ...

... then again, convicted criminals aren't the sharpest "lawyers" to take advice from.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

John Walsh and the rest of the Criminal injustice system are enemy combatants against our People and Constitution.

Here at last is proof that all the boosterism for the General Assembly's marijuana distribution scheme had no basis in legal fact. Dispensaries welcomed State threats and accepted and even cheered-on unconstitutional laws and regulations -- they hoped to stave off the prohibitionist counterrevolution against retail medical cannabis, but it did nothing to alter the letter or the import of the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Patients need to establish confidential relationships with caregivers and establish patient-collectives now. No one who uses or supports medical cannabis should vote for President Obama or any Democrat who does not have a public position opposing Prohibition and a voting record to back it up. The Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy against our rights. Legalizing cannabis is not the most important political issue, but reversing America's slide into fascism is, and Prohibition is driving the criminalization of our society for corporate gain.

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

Please get out and support Ron Paul. 

"I would absolutely never use the Federal Government to arrest anybody for Marijuana."

"They have no authority to come in and override the state law. That is in an offense on our constitution."

http://youtu.be/0CHVI8Q-OXQ

Ron Paul 2012 

Littleface_2002
Littleface_2002

Truth is, kids think smoking pot is 'cool' and they are going to get it regardless of wether or not there is a dispensary within reach of their school or not. We the people of CO voted to allow medical marijuana in our state and this is just another way to take our choice away from us, because its benefiting the people, not the government. The federal gov will never legalize because then there will be no profit for them...but if they can keep mmj legal and collaborate with the pharmaceutical companies to make it available by prescription only, there is their profit..but the millions of uninsured people who can't afford to pay the outrageous out of pocket costs they will charge will be made criminals...and no way would medicaid/medicare cover the cost, loss of gov profit. I have used prescription pain meds for chronic pain for four years and now with an unexpected pregnancy am weaning off. This stuff, that drs have willingly put me on high doses of, is a nightmare to get off of. My physical dependancy is thru the roof and the pills have actually caused me more pain and damage to my body than I had before. I have smoked pot for years rec recreationally and medically, and after my baby is born I would much rather use mmj to control my pain then put these poisonous pills back in my body. Its all about profit, they don't want the dispensaries to profit if they can't

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

We don't have time to talk about kids getting marijuana or ideological differences or lying liars. We need to cooperate now, unify, and solidify, and develop a strategy. We need at least as much control over our local media as law enforcement, and we need to mobilize regularly to disrupt any and all attempts to decide our fate behind closed doors. 

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

Note to Dispensary Owners: Thanks for bringing the feds to town. Now, whatcha gonna do to fight back? Nothing? Well, don't expect any support at all from your patients or the public when the come to shut you down. You didn't think you needed to get involved in politics, so now have fun with the feds.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Zardoz, the notion that the unconstitutional monstrosity of State regulation of medical cannabis would somehow fend off the Feds WAS just wishful thinking; surely we will not have to listen to any more of that happy talk!

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Though the sentencing enhancers for being near a school are possible.....  The sentence enhancer can only be given as a separate charge from the original charges and the defendant must go before a Jury Trial and be found guilty.  Most Federal cases for marijuana will just plead guilty, be given a lesser sentence and then will not be able to be prosecuted for the additional sentencing enhancer.  They basically use the threat of sentence enhancement for near a school to get you to plead guilty, but the reality of getting the sentence enhancer conviction is really really slim.  I've looked through thousands of cases of marijuana prosecutions, Federal and Local, and really there's only been like 3 that I've ever seen that have been given double the penalty for near a school.  Any lawyers want to pipe in on this one?

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

The strategy was to follow the patient - caregiver model.  The dispensaries knew what they were getting into, now they pay the price.  It's the Smuggler's Blues, someone had to lose.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

That threat -- of 40+ years in prison -- sure worked in convincing Chris "living the dream" Bartkowicz and Pierre "Doctor Reefer" Werner to plead guilty to and accept 5 year federal prison terms for relatively low-level marijuana activity.

That no sane person would dare risk a trial when faced with such certain Draconian sentencing is proof of the extreme power of such threats.

While the School Zone enhancer is more often used against minority crack dealers, the plant count enhancer is often used against white middle-class stoners -- to wit:

http://www.canorml.org/fedcase... 

and don't forget the impending indictment of CherryTop Farms locally.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I am saying what I have said before.  I can barely raise a protest against the prohibitionists much less a revolution over medical cannabis.  Being right is no consolation when patients are losing access to medicine and providers are being threatened.

Albert
Albert

I think he's pointing out the facts why the Government works against it's own people, and to claim power over them,  when they aren't given the authority by the Constitution.

 It's complete BS. The states are supposed to be supreme in their decisions, granted by the 10th Amendment. As long as its not prohibited by the Constitution, we can pass any law we want. The drafting congress knew they giving more power to the states.. when they limited the feds  power to high treason, crimes on the high seas, crimes against foreign nations, and counter fitting..... And said that everything else was to handled by the states.  (Articles of The Constitution)

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

Yes but that is apathetic, and apathy and willful ignorance is what has left us unprotected and unprepared for the invasion that is about to take place.

Doing something is better than doing nothing, at the end of the day. 

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

There's no registration of caregivers, LOL! You greedy dispensary owners have signed over everything to DOR/DEA investigators, so the list is loooooong before they run out of you people who are handing themselves over to the feds willingly.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

I agree, but there are thousands of caregivers, so protection in the masses.  Plus caregivers obey the OG rules of the street a little more.  A store dispensary on the other hand is a blatant slap in the face and the dispensaries, not the caregivers are what caused all the controversy and public uproar, which lead to the ridiculous regulations.  Caregivers too, work with a small number of patients and are more likely to provide care, unlike dispensaries which are more like 7-11 and don't really care who they sell to or care for those people.

elliottness
elliottness

I am not sure why anyone thinks the Feds will leave caregivers alone too

That is a real LOL

Guesto
Guesto

This is why Ron Paul has the most support from active US Military of any presidential candidate ever!!! 

Guesto
Guesto

wow you guys are morons. 

the use of race baiting to discount thomas jefferson and the ideals that he demanded we live up to if we wanted to remain free individuals, is a child's game

i don't play child's games guys

we can talk about freedom and liberty or we can play "gotcha" . 

nobody who demands we obey the constitution and the declaration of independence, as TJ asked us to, is advocating slavery. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And in as much as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. " -- Abraham Lincoln

Resistance is Futile, you will be Assimilated ...

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Old Testament provides ample justification for slavery, and so does the New Testament -- Ephesians 6:5 (NIV):  "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ." is often cited, Timothy 6:1-2 similarly supports the institution, and the Epistle of Paul to Philemon concerns Paul's nominal compliance with Roman (and violation of Mosaic) law in returning an escaped slave to his owner.  In Luke 12:47-48, Jesus describes the meting out of blows to servants in a manner which pointedly does not condemn the institution.  As to how many he would own, that remains unclear, but he did advise the rich man to sell all that he had and distribute the proceeds among the poor -- the slave, being a dependent upon someone wealthy enough to own one, might not qualify as "poor" in Jesus' frame of reference, and Jesus does say to sell all -- that would include slaves.

Albert
Albert

This is what I don't understand everyone who has worn the uniform, taken any public office, elected, and some non-elected.. ALL SWEAR TO SUPPORT THE CONSTITUTION."I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic"  What do you consider a violation, if enacted legislation that is not granted under the Constitution, or judges who add things that aren't even mentioned in the Constitution? There is LIMITED authority granted to the congress, executive, and the judicial branches of government. They are not supposed to unilaterally take or give each other any more power or rights. Their RIGHTS HAVE BEEN ENUMERATED by the Constitution.  And any change of power or rights for them or reductions in rights for us....... MUST COME BY THE FORM OF A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Like I said above... the government has their limited scope of power when it comes to crimes.... high treason, crimes on the high seas, crimes against foreign nations, and counter fitting..... And said that everything else was to handled by the states.  (Articles of The Constitution)

We.. on the other hand don't need to change the Constitution in order to have more RIGHTS and POWER.  The states have half a dozen things that they are prohibited by the Constitution, everything else... is a choice for "the people and not legislators" to decide. The 9th and 10th Amendment confirm all of this. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

How many Negro slaves would Jesus own?

HMNSWJO ?

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

"raped"?  Is that based on some presumption of incapacity to consent, or hitherto undisclosed revelations about the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hennings?

Thepotriot
Thepotriot

Way to tug on the heart strings....

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Thomas Jefferson owned, used, abused and raped his Negro Slaves.

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

Thomas Jefferson and his friends would be locked and loaded and ready to kill DEA who infringed on their Liberty. They had to fight for their freedoms. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Anyone who supported, much less begged for "Government Regulation and Taxation" of MMJ deserves all the REGULATION and TAXATION that the Government dumps upon the industry.

Anyone who supported HB1284 -- at all -- or any of the myriad municipal regulations deserves to bear the full weight and pain of those.

Anyone who supported the for-profit retail dispensary lobby -- e.g. clueless politically naive stoners -- deserves the predictable marginalization and severe restrictions that the self-serving for-profit retail dispensary lobby is foisting upon private patients and caregivers via their paid government lobbyists.

You stoners were warned -- continuously from the 2008 dispensary explosion onward -- that the best interests of Private Patients and Private Caregivers as authorized by Amendment 20 would be in direct political, economic and legal conflict with any for-profit Big Dispensary retail industry and their parasitic bedfellows at the Dept. of REVENUE.

You fools "did something" ... you begged the Government to "Regulate and Tax" your precious medicine, you blindly supported the puerile pot clowns and the Big $$ retail dispensaries -- in spite of the warning and cautions of those with more political and legal experience -- and now you shall enjoy the fruits of your daft political ineptitude.

The private patient / individual caregiver model authorized by the Constitutional amendment 20 worked fine for 8+ years until the explosion and invasion of the greedy, for-profit big $$ retail dispensary industry and the subsequent political, legal and public backlash that it brought upon the entire state.

You fools played yourselves for suckers.

Guesto
Guesto

by "doing something" I meant doing everything in our power to fight back against this unconstitutional invasion on our state. doing the right thing is kind of nebulous, it would be better to do everything in our power, instead of sitting on message boards saying "haha i told you so!"

peace

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The politically naive stoners and puerile pot clowns virtually BEGGED the Government to "TAX and REGULATE" their precious "medicine", and blithely shilled for and supported the greedy Big Dispensary lobby, which has now predictably turned against the competing private caregiver/grower model authorized by Amendment 20.

... as they sow, so shall they reap.

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

Yes, master, right you are. HB1284 was doing *something* and it created a whole new branch of law enforcement that is funded to collect information for the DEA. The right thing is fight back, not bend over. Am I a good doggie, still? woof woof

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

"Doing something is better than doing nothing, at the end of the day."

Sounds like George aWol Bu$h's Foreign Policy.

Hint -- doing the RIGHT thing is more important than just doing "something".

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...