Colorado authorities raided eight Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center stores in Denver and Aurora and arrested 12 individuals following a year-long probe into illegal marijuana distribution.
The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses – the city department in charge of regulating marijuana businesses – also suspended a total of 26 licenses for cannabis cultivation, retail, and extraction operations by Sweet Leaf. The suspension order stated that there are reasonable grounds and probable cause for authorities to believe that the Sweet Life businesses have engaged in willful and deliberate violations of state and local regulations.
According to the police, the potential charges against Sweet Leaf include the sale of cannabis exceeding state-mandated limits.
Under Colorado state law, people 21 years old and above are permitted to possess up to an ounce or 28 grams of cannabis or THC. As such, pot shops can sell only this much amount to any given individual in any given day. The popular dispensary has long been suspected of selling more than this amount to customers. The police, however, did not specify how much above the legal limit Sweet Leaf employees are selling.
The eight Sweet Leaf locations raided by the DPD last week were:
- 1475 S. Acoma St. in Denver
- 2647 W. 38th Ave. in Denver
- 5100 W. 38th Ave. in Denver
- 4400 E. Evans Ave. in Denver
- 2609 Walnut St. in Denver
- 4125 N. Elati St. in Denver
- 7200 E. Smith St. in Denver
- 15200 E. 6th Ave. in Aurora
Signs have been put up on the door of these stores to inform the public of their suspended licenses.
The spokesman for the department, Dan Rowland, said that while they have taken disciplinary action against other cannabis businesses in the past, like slapping fines and fees, they have never done a summary suspension like they have now. This is the first time that Denver issued an open-ended suspension against any legal cannabis business since medical and recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014.
The Department of Excise and Licenses is expected to schedule a hearing on the suspension order within 30 days.
Aside from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, also helping the DPD in its investigation are the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the Denver City Attorney’s Office, the Denver District Attorney’s Office, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Aurora Police Department.
Sweet Leaf’s statement
In its official statement, Sweet Leaf said that they were “surprised to receive notification” of the suspension of their city licenses. The statement also said that, at this point, it is “unclear what actions” the company has taken, if any, “to cause the city to issue” the suspension order. However, they assure that they are “cooperating with authorities” in order to resolve the matter and that they hopes to have all Sweet Leaf stores operating back to normal as soon as possible.
Sweet Leaf’s stores located in Portland, Oregon are still open.