Marijuana: 25 dispensaries' closure to protect "students," not just children
Monday was the deadline for 25 medical marijuana centers near schools targeted in a second wave of closure-threat letters from U.S. Attorney John Walsh to shut their doors -- and all of them did.
A third wave is coming, promises Walsh's spokesman, who now stresses his boss's efforts to protect not just children, as originally stated, but also students -- including ones who are already adults.
Earlier this year, Walsh announced that his office would seize property and assets of any dispensary within 1,000 feet of a school that had been ordered to cease operations or relocate and chose not to do so. Here's how he described his rationale in a late February statement, released after the closure of 22 dispensaries -- the first recipients of letters from the U.S. Attorney:
"Thanks to the excellent work of the DEA, working hand in glove with prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office, we were able to close marijuana stores that sold a Scheduled I Controlled Substance within 1,000 feet of a school. These stores were closed without incident. This effort is about protecting children from illegal drugs, and maintaining drug free zones around our schools in compliance with federal law."
In the second wave of letters, however, a number of recipient dispensaries were near colleges or universities that cater almost exclusively to adults, as opposed to institutions attended by juveniles. Even so, Walsh spokesman Jeff Dorschner doesn't see their inclusion as contradictory.
Golden Alternative Care, near the Colorado School of Mines, received a shutdown letter.
"Universities are considered schools," he says. "That is part of the definition of the Drug Free School Zone Act," which provides for escalating drug-offense punishment within 1,000 feet of a school.
But rather than using the term "children," as Walsh did in his previous statement, Dorschner substitutes "students," as in this comment: "The U.S. Attorney's goal from the beginning was to essentially enforce the enhanced penalties regarding the distribution and manufacture of marijuana in or near schools or colleges -- and the purpose of that is to protect students from marijuana stores."
Page down to continue reading about the closure of 25 dispensaries and future actions.