Letters from the U.S. Attorneys Office telling medical marijuana centers they have 45 days to shut down or face prosecution went out yesterday.
Some shops are already receiving their ultimatums in the mail.
Samantha Beckmann, manager of Greenest Green in Denver, which is just across the street from Denver's North High School, received her letter this morning. Although she said the shop expected the letter, she didn't think it would have come so soon.
Despite the negative implications of the letters for businesses across the state, Beckmann says she's remaining positive that this could be a good thing for the dispensary. She says the owners had been discussing a move before the letters came, and this just speeds up their process. "We love the clientele here," she says. "But we want to get a spot where we can have a single, standing location, away from schools. We have to keep positive about this."
Julie Postlethwait, spokeswoman for the state Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, says centers are allowed to move locations only if their local authority allows it, and only within the city under which they were originally licensed. For example, a Denver dispensary can't move to Lakewood. And as attorney Warren Edson pointed out to our Michael Roberts today, finding a spot to move might be tricky.
Postlethwait adds that the MMED has not been involved in the U.S. Attorneys Office investigation so far. In fact, the division was only informed about the letters going out after the public announcement had been made. She says the MMED doesn't even know which dispensaries have received letters. But she stresses that her office will cooperate with the feds and hand over any paperwork needed as well as help destroy any seized marijuana.
Despite not receiving letters yet, several other shops within 1,000 feet of a school in the metro area are already preparing for the worst.
Such is the case across town in Cherry Creek, where Rocky Mountain High dispensary sits within eyesight of Bromwell Elementary School. A manager there (she didn't want to give her name) says the shop's owners would regret having to shut down, but notes that RMH has six other locations for patients in Colorado, including one within walking distance of the University shop. Being forced to close the one near Bromwell would be a hassle, she concedes, but patients would still be able to access meds.
By Tad Bowler's estimation, his shop, Med Stop on 8th avenue in Denver, is less than 1,000 feet away from the property line of Denver West High School. He hasn't received a letter yet, but says he's expecting one any day now. He says he's frustrated, upset and angry over the situation, as well as with the state, which he says is letting everyone down.
As for being a threat to children, as the U.S. Attorneys Office letter infers, Bowler says the kids in his neighborhood are more of a risk to him than the other way around.
"Denver West is so bad, and they're in my neighborhood," he says, after pointing out that no minor has ever been in his shop, let alone purchased his meds. "I've had kids out front trying to sell bags to customers as they walk in. These kids have more grass than I do."
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Bowler says he plans to look at moving to a new location so that he doesn't have to let all of his patients go, but adds that he's doubtful it will happen.
"I'm tapped. Physically and emotionally I'm drained. I work over 100 hours a week, I'm living out of a hotel. I mean, I hoped to make a little bit of money out of this, but that's not what it's about to me."