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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CO: Fed Med Marijuana Crackdown May Come To Colorado
Title:US CO: Fed Med Marijuana Crackdown May Come To Colorado
Published On:2011-12-14
Source:Summit Daily News (CO)
Fetched On:2011-12-15 06:03:11

DENVER - Federal authorities are considering a statewide crackdown on
medical marijuana businesses in Colorado in the first sign that a
coordinated offensive against the industry is expanding from California.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that
such an enforcement action is under consideration for Colorado early
next year, despite state laws that regulate and tax the industry. The
official spoke on condition of anonymity and did not provide details
because the matter is under review.

KCNC-TV reported Tuesday (http://cbsloc.al/tQ3DBq ) that the crackdown
would target dispensaries and cultivations located near schools, with
those businesses receiving letters to end operations within 45 days or
face prosecution.

U.S. Attorney John Walsh would not comment on the matter, his
spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner said. Walsh would be responsible for
pursuing federal charges. U.S. Department of Justice officials in
Washington referred the matter back to Walsh.

In California, the crackdown targeted dozens of medical marijuana
businesses, landlords leasing property to growers, and retailers
selling medical marijuana over the counter. U.S. attorneys there did
not release how many marijuana businesses were targeted in the state,
which first legalized medical marijuana in 1996.

The crackdown raised fears that a similar action would happen in Colorado.

"This has been the reality that people in the industry have been
living with from day one," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the
Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. "The feds have
generally stayed away from people in good compliance with state law.
.. Will that be the approach here?"

There are 667 retail shops, or dispensaries, 926 cultivations and 246
infused product manufacturers operating under Colorado law, according
to figures from the state revenue department.

Colorado's medical marijuana industry began its boom after a September
2009 memo by then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden that said
federal prosecutors should not focus investigative resources on
patients and caregivers complying with state laws. Ogden's
replacement, James Cole, sent another memo in June that took a tougher
stance and said state medical marijuana laws do not provide immunity
from federal prosecution.

Cole's memo said cancer patients and caregivers shouldn't be targeted,
but commercial enterprises that sell and profit from marijuana sales
should be a priority.

He visited Colorado three weeks after the federal government announced
the crackdown in California but declined to comment on any enforcement
beyond that state. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have
passed laws legalizing marijuana for medical use.

"Colorado has been a model for how a state should regulate medical
marijuana," said Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado, a medical
marijuana advocacy group. "Our system has worked and Colorado should
be allowed to continue to do so."
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