Sweet Leaf Budtender's Charges Dropped, Investigation Continues

Sweet Leaf has been in an ongoing legal battle with the City of Denver since 2017.
Sweet Leaf has been in an ongoing legal battle with the City of Denver since 2017. Scott Lentz
Deann Miller was preparing to go to trial on Monday, August 6, on felony and misdemeanor drug charges when she got a call from her attorney, Rob Corry, who informed her that the Denver District Attorney's Office was dropping all charges.

Miller, who was arrested last December in connection to law enforcement raids on eight Sweet Leaf dispensaries in Aurora and Denver, was elated to hear the news. She could've faced over a year in prison for her role in the company's alleged marijuana looping, or selling more marijuana to customers than state law allows. One of eighteen Sweet Leaf budtenders arrested by the Denver Police Department in the looping case, she was the only one prepared to go trial.

"I just feel great. I'm so glad I fought that fight. I'm glad my attorneys were willing to fight this fight with me," Miller says. "The police still haven't told me anything about what they had, but I'm just excited to get back to living my life."

Still a valid employee with a state Marijuana Enforcement Division license, Miller now budtends at Seed & Smith dispensary. She's excited to keep to her job, which wouldn't have been the case had she been found guilty, as felons with drug convictions are barred from working in Colorado's legal pot industry. "I don't have to worry about my job anymore!" she exclaims. "I was worried I wasn't going to be able to work anywhere else."

click to enlarge
Deann Miller and her family.
Courtesy of Deann Miller
Sixteen other budtenders saw their charges dropped when they accepted offers dismissing similar drug distribution charges in exchange for 100 to 200 hours of community service and a $100 donation to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a "good deal" considering what they were facing, according to Corry. But Miller, a 46-year-old mother and grandmother, didn't feel like she owed the city anything, and called the DA's bluff by requesting a trial instead of taking the offer. And it paid off.

Earlier today, August 3, the DA dismissed the charges against Miller; in its motion for dismissal, the DA's Office said it didn't want her trial to "adversely impact the larger investigation into the criminal enterprise." Charges against budtender Michael Pesavento, who was arrested months after the raids, also were dismissed, according to DA communications director Ken Lane.

Lane says he wasn't surprised by the dismissal of Miller's charges, since cases against sixteen of her former colleagues had already been dismissed. But the DA expects more to come from the case, he notes, confirming that more people connected with Sweet Leaf could be indicted by a grand jury.

"The Sweet Leaf 'budtenders' were the point-of-sale in the distribution and possession of illegal amounts of marijuana. The larger scheme involving Sweet Leaf remains under investigation, and is being considered by the Denver County Grand Jury," he says in an email. "Since December 2017, we have learned more about the overall enterprise and scheme, and what roles various individuals played in this overall enterprise. We anticipate further criminal legal action."

So far, no Sweet Leaf executives or owners have been arrested, only budtenders. All of the company's business licenses in Denver have been revoked, but Sweet Leaf plans on appealing that decision in court; its remaining dispensaries in Aurora, Federal Heights and Thornton have all been suspended by the MED.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell