Medical marijuana: Most MMCs targeted by feds moved rather than closing

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Warren Edson.
This week, the 25 medical marijuana dispensaries targeted in a second round of shut-down letters from the U.S. Attorney's office closed their doors, bringing the total number of shops that have done so to 47. But according to marijuana attorney Warren Edson, the majority of those MMCs have simply relocated -- a fact missed by most media outlets that have covered the story.

According to Edson, only a dozen or so of the shops have actually shut down for good.

"Finding out the exact numbers is hard because everyone is being secret about it," Edson concedes. "But in the first 23 [letters] I could find five, plus or minus two, that closed altogether. [One of the original 23 letters was subsequently withdrawn.] The second round of letters? About six, again plus or minus two.

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U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
"I think the average Joe reads that like the feds are shutting them down, or, that is the knee-jerk reaction from the headlines," he adds. "Not to diminish the loss from the folks who have shut down, but in terms of the overall scene, that isn't really the case."

Getting a list of all the dispensaries that have been sent letters isn't as easy as it would seem. For starters, officials at the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver will not give out the names of the shops because they are considered "work product" in an ongoing operation. And the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has been kept in the dark on the matter; a representative claims the agency was never given a complete list.

The MMED only finds out about the notices if a shop owner volunteers the information -- usually when applying for either an outright withdrawal of the application or what officials call a "voluntary withdrawal" that would allow them to reopen at some point in the future. Even then, the owners might not disclose their reasoning.

MMED spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait says most owners come clean -- but their information can't be shared, she maintains. Here's her explanation, sent to us via e-mail.

Page down to continue reading about closed and relocated MMCs.


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