Just last week Sweet Leaf was forced to close the doors of all 10 of their Colorado locations following raids on eight of their Denver and Aurora stores. Thirteen budtenders were arrested and the company’s 26 vertically integrated licenses are currently suspended following the legal action. These arrests and suspensions follow a year-long diligent criminal investigation into illegal distribution of cannabis at these specific Sweet Leaf locations according to MJBiz Daily.
Colorado Amendment 64 allows budtenders in the state to sell one ounce of cannabis to a customer in a day. Similarly, citizens are permitted to possess, use, display, purchase, and transport just one ounce of cannabis per day. These kinds of laws are in place to wipe out a black market in the state, ensuring that recreational users are purchasing from licensed dispensaries. The budtenders involved are being held on suspicion to distribute more than anywhere from one to four ounces of cannabis.
As of last April, Sweet Releaf employed 350 people from their cultivation to their storefronts. Their revenue in 2016 topped out at $60 million. Aside from their 10 Colorado locations they’ve also expanded to Portland, Oregon. As of right now, the Portland location remains open.
According to affidavits, in the painstakingly planned sting operation, undercover cops would enter the establishment and purchase ‘The Special’, an ounce for $120. The police officer would go to their car, put the cannabis away, and then re-enter the store to purchase another ounce. Officers would acquire anywhere from two to five ounces, at the least double the lawful amount for someone to transport. All of these actions are recorded by the officer’s bodycam.
The order of summary of the suspension was signed by the director of licensing, Ashley Kilroy. This official order states that after reviewing the Denver police investigation they were provided with “Reasonable grounds and probable cause exists to believe that Respondents have engaged in deliberate and willful violations of state and local laws or regulations, and/or that the public health, safety, and welfare requires emergency action.”
These raids and arrests have cast a large ominous shadow over the Colorado cannabis industry, and serve as a reminder to comply with current regulations.
Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she put down her budtender hat and dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the cannabis plant fuel the passion in her posts.