By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Colorado has been mercifully spared -- so far -- from the federal crackdown on medical marijuana. Some have speculated its highly regulated system of handling distribution through state-licensed dispensaries has protected the state. That theory may now need some adjustment. Federal authorities plan to crack down on the medicinal cannabis business in Colorado on a large scale for the first time.
The action -- which also flies in the face of theories postulating that since Colorado's medical marijuana law is a constitutional amendment, it has protected the state from the feds -- will begin with warning letters which will go to dispensaries and grow facilities near schools, reports Rick Sallinger at CBS4.
So far, it's not clear when the crackdown will begin in earnest.
Dispensaries that receive the warning letters from Colorado's U.S. Attorney -- letters similar to those sent in other medical marijuana states -- will be given 45 days to shut down or move. If they don't comply, they'll be shut down by the federal prosecutor, CBS 4 reports.
The targeted dispensaries are reportedly located within 1,000 feet of schools.That rule is apparently being used because that distance already appears in federal law as a factor in drug crime sentencing.
It follows the same curious pattern the DOJ has used in other medical marijuana states. The federal government officially classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with a high danger of abuse and no medical value, and thus it's illegal for any purpose, and all dispensaries are violating federal law. But for whatever reason, they have so far felt the need to justify their raids on dispensaries by singling out dispensaries that are supposedly violating some additional rule or other, such as the 1,000-foot limit.
The move comes after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) sent out a memo "clarifying" that marijuana "has been and remains illegal under federal law," despite its medical legalization in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
Many of Colorado's dispensaries are within 1,000 feet of a school, but have already been approved to be there under local laws. They have usually been grandfathered in.
Such is the case with the Rocky Mountain High dispensary at 3rd and University in Cherry Creek North, which is near Bromwell Elementary School, but was grandfathered in under Denver's municipal ordinances.
A crackdown on the dispensary is suddenly "vital for the safety and the security of our students and our community," claimed Bromwell Principal Jody Cohn, who evidently believes those scary marijuana plants are going to escape and start attacking kids.
No word from the oh-so-concerned Principal Cohn regarding shutting down liquor stores or pharmacies -- both of which sell products which actually kill people -- that are located near the school.
Robert Corry, an attorney representing dispensaries, said the medical marijuana shops are strictly regulated under Colorado law.
"The federal apparatus here has better things to do," Corry said. "My reaction would be the federal government is essentially declaring war on the voters of our state (who) passed a Constitutional amendment."
U.S. Attorneys in California, Washington and other states recently announced crackdowns in which they would be targeting landlords who rent space to the dispensaries, as well as dispensary owners and operators.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.