Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett recently took issue with U.S. Attorney John Walsh's closure-threat letters to medical marijuana centers within 1,000 feet of schools. After Garnett sent a letter of his own on the topic, a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman told us Walsh would respond directly to the Boulder DA "at the appropriate time." That's apparently now: Walsh's latest letter is on view below. And he wasn't impressed by Garnett's arguments.
One indication of Walsh's antipathy toward MMJ: He puts the phrase "medical marijuana" in quotes after noting that federal law "unambiguously prohibits all sale and distribution of marijuana." He then goes on to note that Justice Department memos counseling U.S. Attorneys around the country about how to deal with medical marijuana in states that have legalized it allow discretion when it comes to enforcement.
Walsh then describes his own view of priorities regarding MMJ. He defines "the protection of children and young people from drugs and drug abuse, very much including marijuana abuse," as the sort of overriding interest that demanded action by his office, especially in light of the industry's boom. An excerpt:
This office has reviewed information from many sources, including our public schools, as well as hospitals and medical professionals, that shows an alarming and substantial spike in marijuana abuse by children and young people during that same period.
When this disturbing information came to the attention of this office, we concluded that our responsibility -- as federal law enforcement officials, and also as Coloradans living in the very Colorado communities impacted by these alarming trends -- required a response.
Hence, the letters threatening to shut down and seize 23 medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools -- a number subsequently downsized by one after it was discovered that a building thought to be a school was actually an administration building.
This program will continue "until all marijuana dispensaries in Colorado operating within 1,000 feet of a school have been warned and have ceased operation," Walsh writes, adding that "this program is not at the direction of Washington, D.C., but at my direction as U.S. Attorney and as a Coloradan."
Referring to the latter designation, Walsh suggests that many other residents feel as he does. He mentions "the outpouring of thanks and appreciation this office has received from Coloradans in affected communities for our program to close marijuana dispensaries near schools."
The Walsh letter is directly below, followed by the missive from Garnett that prompted it.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana seizure letters: 22 shops shut, five enforcement actions."