Update: 2:15 p.m., December 14: A Sweet Leaf representative has sent Westword an official statement from the company: "This morning, Sweet Leaf was surprised to receive notification from the Department of Excise and License suspending all of our city licenses in the City and County of Denver. It is unclear at this point exactly what actions, if any, Sweet Leaf took to cause the city to issue this order. Sweet Leaf is cooperating with the authorities to resolve this issue and hopes to have all of their stores back in operation as soon as possible."
Sweet Leaf, one of Colorado's largest cannabis businesses, closed multiple locations across the Denver metro area after the Denver Police Department issued both search and arrest warrants on Thursday, December 14, according to the DPD and the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses.
Effective immediately, Sweet Leaf's cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses in Denver are suspended, according to Excise and Licenses communications director Daniel Rowland. The department issued the suspensions after receiving word of the DPD's plan to execute search and arrest warrants across Sweet Leaf operations.
DPD public information officer Sonny Jackson confirmed that multiple warrants were issued at Sweet Leaf locations, but declined to give further information, citing an ongoing investigation.
All ten of Sweet Leaf's Colorado stores are now closed or not answering the phone; a sign announcing the chain's license suspensions is taped to the door of its dispensary at 2609 Walnut Street. "Medical and/or retail licenses for these premises have been suspended by order of the Denver Department of Excises and Licenses for alleged violations of Colorado law," reads the sign.
Open since 2009, Sweet Leaf has been one of Denver's largest dispensary chains since retail sales began in January 2014. In addition to the ten now-closed dispensaries in metro Denver, the company had planned to open a store in Thornton. It also has a dispensary in Portland, Oregon, which was still open as of Thursday afternoon; its employees said they were unaware of the search and arrest warrants in Denver.
Excise and Licenses must have a hearing to determine additional action within thirty days or the suspensions will be lifted, according to Rowland.
A police officer at the Walnut dispensary declined to speak on the matter; the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the state agency that issued or oversaw the transfer of 26 cannabis business licenses to the owners of Sweet Leaf, also declined to comment.
We'll update this story as we learn more.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.