On January 25, the long-running saga of the Sweet Leaf looping scandal came to an end when three owners of what was once one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains were sentenced to a year in jail.
The case started with a single tip from "a watchful citizen who observed the same people making multiple purchases of marijuana from a single Sweet Leaf dispensary in one day and tipped off the Denver Police Department,” according to Denver District Attorney Beth McCann. After a year of undercover investigations, the DPD raided Sweet Leaf dispensaries across Denver. They never opened again, and now their owners are going to jail.
Comments in response to the news came in fast and, in some cases, furious. Says Skip:
I disliked Sweet Leaf's product, but let's be real: No one should be locked up for a plant.
Only a government busybody could interpret the phrase “a single sales transaction” to mean per day. And that’s really the crux of the issue. Whatever you think of Sweet Leaf, they were following the letter of the law, and the government railroaded them anyway.
No one should do time for marijuana, but prosecutions will inevitably continue thanks to the antiquated laws still on the books and the millions in marijuana taxes that allow unrepentant prohibitionists to fight their little war. Meanwhile, schools are underfunded, homelessness is way up, and fentanyl is killing people in the streets. Hey, but at least Beth McCann and the folks at MED and the DPD can pat themselves on the back.
The way to succeed in the canna business, especially early on, was to stay in the gray area and be more creative than the MED until they caught on. Going into the black area, you gamble.
Marijuana Deals Near You
This law is fucking bullshit to begin with. Anyone going to look at you suspiciously when you buy a van full of booze at Argonaut to sell in Utah? Nah.
End all drug prohibition now. You know why I'm not going to go out and buy heroin or meth today? Cuz I don't want to. I have to fucking work and do productive things with my life, I can't be high all the time.
The idea that drug prohibition is what keeps people from ruining their lives with drugs is laughable, cuz people do that anyway regardless. We just throw in bonus punishment.
And Ryan asks:
So does the State of Colorado have to give all that tax money back, or are they considered a co-conspirator?
Keep reading for more of our Sweet Leaf coverage.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
"Sweet Leaf Owners Get a Year in Jail for Illegal Pot Sales"
Sweet Leaf owners Anthony Sauro, Christian Johnson and Matthew Aiken all pleaded guilty in Denver District Court on January 25.
Under plea deals with the Denver District Attorney, the three men will each serve one year in prison and face a year of parole and a one-year probationary sentence to run concurrently for charges under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, as well as felony marijuana distribution charges. The cannabis consulting and management companies they collectively own, Dynamic Growth LLC and AJS Holdings, will relinquish all assets and each pay fines of up to $125,000 on charges of organized crime and failure to file tax returns.
Sweet Leaf was once one of Colorado's largest marijuana brands, responsible for eleven dispensaries at one point. But that all ended with the raids in December 2017.
What do you think of the Sweet Leaf situation? Post a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.