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Medical marijuana: U.S. Attorney may target grows with future closure letters

Thumbnail image for john walsh.JPG
John Walsh.
Update: On Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that it had sent another 25 seizure-threat letters to medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools; see details in our original coverage below. However, some language in the letters differed from the first mailing in January. Now, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney John Walsh confirms one implication of such tweaks: MMJ grows near schools may be targeted next time around.

"The purpose of the letter is to give fair warning that if marijuana distribution or cultivation was occurring within 1,000 feet of a school, there would be consequences," says Jeff Dorschner, speaking for Walsh. "We wanted to make sure legally that if there was a situation in which a grow was within 1,000 feet of a school, those who received the targeted letters would know the grow could also be the subject of enforcement action."

marijuana grow image for north metro task force.jpg
Other textual adjustments -- they can be found on page two of the most recent letters, both of which are on view below -- pertain to marijuana or marijuana-infused products that might be found on the premises of a dispensary after it's shut down.

"The last paragraph essentially states that should agents, in the process of confirming that a marijuana store has closed, come into contact with contraband, they can and will seize the contraband," Dorschner notes.

Dorschner emphasizes that in what his office sees as the "second phase" of its efforts to force the shuttering of dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, each center "has 45 days to close or they face enforcement action."

As for grows, the fresh verbiage doesn't guarantee that they'll be included in future mailings of closure letters, of which there should be at least one more. Rather, says Dorschner, "it's the possibility that they could be."

Continue to read our earlier coverage.

Original March 23 item, followed by update: In January, U.S. Attorney John Walsh sent letters to 23 dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools, warning that they'd be subject to forfeiture and seizure if they didn't close or move within 45 days. At that time, Walsh's spokesman, Jeff Dorschner, promised that a "second wave" of letters would follow, and he's as good as his word. Today, Dorschner confirms that letters have gone out to 25 more medical marijuana centers.

Thumbnail image for Garnett.jpg
Stan Garnett.
According to Dorschner, the latest letter is similar to the original version, on view below. For instance, recipients still have 45 days to shut down operations or face the seizure of their property. However, he acknowledges that "there have been minor revisions, some technical changes."

The first time around, Dorschner noted that the majority of dispensaries targeted were in the Denver area. This time around, he describes the list as "more geographically diverse. But it does include a number of marijuana stores in Denver."

How about Boulder? Earlier this month, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett wrote Walsh a letter asking the feds to back off any attempt to close MMCs in the city that are otherwise compliant with state and local ordinances. On Wednesday, Walsh responded with a letter defending the actions and maintaining that he's received an outpouring of appreciation from Coloradans in "affected communities." And Dorschner confirms that Boulder is indeed represented on the second list.

Of the 23 MMCs that received letters in January, 22 of them closed or moved. The 23rd letter was withdrawn after the U.S. Attorney's Office determined that the building that staffers thought was a school attended by children was actually an administration building.

Are more mailings in the works after this batch works through the system? "There will be at least one more," Dorschner says, "and possibly others."

Update, 2:38 p.m. March 23: We've just received not one but two redacted versions of letters than went out to what the U.S. Attorney's Office described as "marijuana stores." But the documents suggest that the targets of these documents either have been expanded or can be in the future.

While the letter sent in January refers specifically to a "marijuana dispensary," the latest pair change that to read "marijuana dispensary and/or optional premises grow center."

Does that mean U.S. Attorney Walsh will also be looking to shut down grows within 1,000 feet of schools, in addition to retail operations? If so, are some of the 25 letter recipients grow owners, as opposed to MMC owners? Or was the language put in place early, so no change will be necessary when grows are added?

We've put in followup calls to U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Jeff Dorschner for clarification; we'll update this post when he gets back to us. In the meantime, here are the two letters -- one designated as a "dispensary" letter, the other labeled a "property" letter. That's followed by the original letter from January.

John Walsh Second Wave Dispensary Letter
John Walsh Second Wave Property Letter
U.S. Attorney John Walsh Redacted Letter to Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: DA Stan Garnett defends telling feds to back off Boulder MMCs."


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199 comments
common sense
common sense

the closures are individually targeted. We are noticing that dispensaries that have paid their tens of thousands of dollars in fees are more targeted than dispensaries who are still in final inspections limbo. ALCC is within the same 1000 feet of a school that Greenhouse LLC is. ALCC passed its final MMED inspection and has paid their license fees. Greenhouse is still in the review process and has not paid. ALCC got a shut down letter. Greenhouse did not. I bet the state attorney and the MMED are working together to get revenue then send letters right after they pay effectively requiring tens of thousands more to move, draining the financial accounts causing most stores to shut down... just like Chronic Wellness. Pretty much a dick move Mr Walsh. I hope you burn in hell for ruining more lives than marijuana has.

Unintended Consequences
Unintended Consequences

Does anybody know if possession of a red card means forfeiture of right to purchase a firearm?

Rev. B Baker
Rev. B Baker

sieze the contaband not cease, did the us attorneys spell it wrong and you copy & pasted the quote, or did you misquote?

Monkey
Monkey

UPDATE. Looks like Boulder is the target this time, MMC owners I know have already received this letter, US postal service is quick I guess. If they move to grows next, most of the city's grows that accommodate more than just Boulder will be gone. Boulder forced them into specific locations, you know where I'm talking about, and those that do know, know there are many in one location and that location is less than 1000ft from a school. Boulder is desperately trying to kill the industry themselves so expect no help from them when you want to "move your operation", there will be no place to move, guaranteed.

Tinker_Nosey_Parker_Soldierspy
Tinker_Nosey_Parker_Soldierspy

The best thing to do is legalise all drugs so that the soft drugs are sold through licenced retailers while the hard drugs could be given to REGISTERED drug addicts free of charge.  The crime rate would drop eighty percent as most crime is certainly where I am from, drug related.

Funnyhaha
Funnyhaha

Bet the stores are not within 1000 feet of a law enforcement agency, so one can assume the store owners discriminated in chosing their initial location.  Now they can discriminate again, only better this time.

vannyxin
vannyxin

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confused!
confused!

The Walgreens over here by Tamarac Square in southeast Denver sells Codeine, Phenobarbitol, Diazapan, Morphine, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, and all sorts of other hardcore drugs that are proven to kill and hospitalize people. 

To make matters worse, this Walgreens is located literally right next to Southmoor Park where all the neighborhood kids go to play. I can't believe our local and federal government leaders continue to let this dangerous drug dealer stay in business. Sometimes even Denver City Councilwoman Peggy Lehman stops into this deadly drug dealer's supermarket and...you guessed it...appears to walk out with bags of these deadly kid killing drugs...

Clete
Clete

John Walsh must be a lover and investor of doughnuts, payday loans, pawnshops, convenience stores, gasoline stations, and fast food.  Those are the kinds of businesses that will replace where these medical dispensaries are now sited when he gets his way.  Products, substances, and services that will lead to more sick and ill people who will need the care and products the dispensaries are providing.  Walsh, his cronies, and honchos must all be part of the big racket and enterprises looking to disempower and control the public as much as possible, creating the new 21st Century versions of Fascist Italy, Bolshevik Russia, and Communist Red China right here in Colorado firmly and for perpetuity.

Xenu
Xenu

 I created big pharma years ago for the purpose of killing humans and destroying this planet.  Pot heads are a threat to my design for many reasons.  Cannabis is non-toxic and doesnot play the same reactive games on humans minds and soles.   Can't also cause the world toturn into a big desert without destroying the rainforest. .You are doing my evil bidding by being anti mmj and I am very thankful.  This is very reminiscent of how I was able to convince the Hitler Brainwash his people with psychologists. Or when I decided to implant all of your soles with that fake story of Jesus and other religions 75 million years ago.  . Now Donkey my loyal servant! I order you to release me from this mountain cave prison ASAP!! We can rape, pillage, and destroy together!!!!!! .- Evil Lord Xenu!!!!. p.s. google my name!

Wordhorder
Wordhorder

Just say "not guilty"

America has a rich history of activism through the court system! Abolitionist would refuse guilty verdicts on slaves who ran.

Anti-prohibitionists would refuse guilty verdicts on rum runners. We have a voice in the court system...use it. 

Sharonday5
Sharonday5

To Donkey_Hotay I have been reading your posts here not sure why you spend so much time here I guess you just have no life! So you like to insult other people who are either sick or in pain!  You need to be careful there tho cause someday it maybe you, or a loved one that becomes sick. And it is ok for you to have your opinion but it is NOT okay to come on here and insult people who have never done anything to you! Now can I understand that you are not educated in the TRUE facts about cannabis. yes I can but you see people like you who don't want to read real facts only spill hate and lies, and spin!!!!You are a sheep! You only follow you do not lead because you have no knowledge to lead anyone!!! and when you say Cannabis= fail you should email bill Gates about that unless you consider him a failure, how about Richard Branson (oh let me guess, you don't know who that is right, ok let me tell you he owns a small airlines called Virgin Airlines!!!) And there are so many more but the main fact is that people in this world do get sick and everyone in this country deserves the right to use a plant to treat themselves if they so choose. You laugh at sick people who want a safer way to treat their illness. You are a real winner!!! Why are you so afraid of the truth. You think you are smarter than science! Personally I just think you are a very sad person and need to GET A LIFE!!!!! And leave people who are not as lucky as you to have perfect health!!!!!!!!    

Guest
Guest

Please direct your displeasure in the form of letters and phone calls to the offices of President Barack Obama and US Attorney John Walsh.  Bickering in the comments section of a Westword article is unproductive.

Flyighfreebird77
Flyighfreebird77

Im 100% for medical marijuana and the decriminalization of marijuana but to be 1000ft of a school is that really so much to ask? Youve already been allowed to operate by the state which is a huge step in the right direction but come on people if we are going to be allowed to have medical marijuana lets be adult enough to keep the grows and operations 1000ft of a school. this should jsut be commen sense

Bigdaddygenius
Bigdaddygenius

if you look real close you can see the horns growing out of john walsh's head.    May he collapse in a fiery ball of flames when he gets caught smoking weed with his underage prostitute, like all these hypocrites that claim the moral high ground.

Joe Smith
Joe Smith

It's all about money, who's money. What and who gives him the right to supursede State voted on laws? He should not have that kind of power. Why doesn't he spend some time on how bone fragments are still being found on roof tops blocks away form the blast zone. Or getting some photo's released of the plane that discinegrated into the pentagon. 87 camera's and we get 2 frames of a minor exlosion.

GetReal
GetReal

Meanwhile, bars and breweries STILL continue to enable impaired drivers on our roads.  How many more children have to die on the road as a result before those places are forced to close???  There a people right now heading out the bar and heading for their car.

Joe Baumann
Joe Baumann

I love living in the land of the free.  Wait.......................

Monkey
Monkey

Don't listen to Donkey, the federal form is for gun dealers. Don't tell the gun dealer you have a card and they can sell you a gun, your card is confidential. Truthfully answer the question on the form because you don't unlawfully use marijuana in Colorado, regardless of the letter sent to dealers clarifying marijuana is still a federal crime. If the feds arrest you, marijuana possession will be the crime and possessing a firearm while committing a crime will be an additional charge. You only sign that form when you buy a gun from a dealer, but in Colorado you can buy a gun from most anyone without signing anything. Colorado police and court system will not consider marijuana a crime, therefore, possessing a firearm while NOT committing a crime is not a crime by itself. If anyone uses "addicted to marijuana" as a last resort to charge you with something, it is very difficult to prove addiction. All you would have to do is take a month off from smoking and pass a drug test to prove the lack of addiction. 

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

FFL Form 4473, section 12, disqualifying question E --

***__ Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana, or any depressant, stimulant, or narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance ?

I certify that the above answers are true and correct.  I understand that answering  “yes” to question 12a when I am not the actual buyer of the firearm is a crime punishable as a felony. 

 I understand that a person who answers  “yes” to any of the questions 12b through 12k is prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm. 

 I also understand that making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony.

Monkey
Monkey

No!!  A "red card" is confidential and no one has the right to purchase firearms, only to posses them. A registry card does not forfeit your right to own guns. As far as the federal government is concerned, marijuana is a crime and it is illegal to posses a firearm while committing a crime. 

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Brain fart, Rev. It's now been fixed. Thanks for your help.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

So it looks like Stan Garnett's plea for special treatment and exemption from Federal Drug Laws for Boulder's Continuous Criminal Enterprises worked about as well as Chris Bartkowicz's television appearance ....

Fun Facts:

Growing 100 or more plants -- of any size -- brings a 5 year MINIMUM mandatory Federal Prison sentence.

Growing 1000 or more plants -- of any size -- brings a 10 year MINIMUM mandatory Federal Prison sentence.

Doing the above within 1000 ft of any School property = DOUBLE the above MANDATORY sentences.

Anyone who thinks the Feds are bluffing should read these cases in detail --http://www.canorml.org/fedcase...

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

How many ILLEGAL drugs does this Walgreens sell ?

Clue: If they were also selling Marijuana, they too would be subject to the current Federal "cease and desist" letters.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Don't forget the other side of your coin --

Racists would fabricate guilty verdicts against innocent Negros.

Prohibitionists would convict with little or no evidence against Speak-easy owners and clients.

HipTip: The knife cuts both ways.

Donkey Hotay's Dog
Donkey Hotay's Dog

My master does have a life -- it's trying to educate people who are apparently too dull to see the writing on wall. I'm a dumb animal, for chrisakes, and even I understand. It's clear to anyone that my master is making fun of the whole Colorado cannabis "industry", who begged the government to regulate them to make them "legitimate" and thumbed their noses at the feds with their street corner marijuana stores. Now they are crying foul (fowl?) when the chickens come home to roost. They asked for it, and they got it. As my learned master says, if you can't do the time, don't do the crime. The feds weren't crawling up everyone's rear end before these greedy di$pensaries set up shop. Once the di$pensaries go, so will the feds. My master and I welcome that day! Can I have a biscuit now? Or can I just go hump Walsh's leg?

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Resistance is Futile ... You will be Assimilated.

Monkey
Monkey

I hate federal forms!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Bad Monkey! ... no banana for you !

 According to a new memo from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it is illegal for him or any registered medical-marijuana patient to own or possess firearms or ammunition.

The letter written last week by ATF Assistant Director Arthur Herbert to all federal firearms licensees gave them guidance on what to do if a firearms customer reveals that he or she is a medical-marijuana patient.

According to the letter, "any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes, is an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance, and is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.

"http://www.usatoday.com/news/n...

Monkey
Monkey

Thanks Matt,

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

Kilroy
Kilroy

Donkey/aka Laura Khiro of CTI - Confused is making a valid point. All of the drugs in the pharmacy can kill you... yet nothing is being done about those dangers.

You recent attacks on cannabis are very odd...  Has something dramatically changed in your life recent to spur this new 'alter-ego' of yours???

Mr. Fun
Mr. Fun

 Actually, it takes 12 to convict, but only one to hang a jury, so jury nullification really only works in the direction of acquittal.

Kilroy
Kilroy

 Gee, Luara Khiro, of Cannabis Therapy Institute has the EXACT SAME take on dispensaries.... .hmmm.....

Monkey
Monkey

Maybe just a little banana? i'm hungry.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

A Democracy DESERVES the Government it Elects.

Ipso Facto.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Typical ignorant stoner making blatantly false assertions.

1) I'm not Laura Khiro

2) Your assertion that "nothing is being done about those dangers" is utterly false.

Try again, stoner.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

When you have no idea what you're yammering about, it's best to stop yammering.

A mistrial results in a SECOND TRIAL for the defendant, at 2x the cost to defend, and 2x the time in pre-trial detention if they haven't made bail.

The chances of conviction almost always increase at retrials, with the prosecution holding strategic and tactical advantages they didn't have in the first trial.

". I don't see any movement of people running around saying "let's all convict no matter what"

LOL! ... see 12 Southern White jurors judging a Black man.

See 12 Bible-thumping Christians judging an abortion doctor.

See 12 anti-drug Mormons judging a Marijuana Dealing Dispensary located nearby an Elementary school ... or near their Mormon Temple.

When you start instructing or suggesting that Jurors "ignore the law", the results can and do cut both ways.

They can CONVICT defendants who are technically innocent, but whom they feel deserve punishment.

The fallacy in the "Jury Nullification" argument is that you assume the wild-cat juries will vote with your "morality" and not against it as they "ignore the law".

Anarchy ain't no way to run a Judicial System.

Mr. Fun
Mr. Fun

Not so, Donkey. A mis-trial benefits the defendant -- guess you have never been a defendant. A mis-trial is way better than a conviction for the defendant. Read the Wikipedia -- jury nullification is when a juror *nullifies* a law in a particular instance because they believe the law is unjust. It has nothing to do with an unanimous guilty vote that you described earlier. I don't see any movement of people running around saying "let's all convict no matter what". Jury nullification, on the other hand, is a movement -- a movement of people who often are upset by unfair and racist drug laws -- who educate others how to use the power of the jury to acquit, not to convict.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J..."Jury nullification is a constitutional doctrine which allows juries to acquit criminal defendants who are technically guilty, but who do not deserve punishment."

You are perhaps "blithely ignorant" of the fact that "nullification" means "nullify" the laws, not uphold the laws (vote guilty) at any costs.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

It takes a unanimous verdict -- in most states -- to either convict or acquit.

A mistrial via hung jury results in a re-trail, which almost always advantages the prosecution.

Instructing juries to ignore the law cuts both ways, as history has painfully illustrated.

Most "jury nullification" proponents are blithely ignorant of that reality.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

You really are infatuated with Laura ... why don't you man-up and simply ask her out on a date?

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