Sweet Leaf Drops Denver Appeal: Deals With DA and MED in the Works?

Sweet Leaf on 4400 East Evans Avenue.
Sweet Leaf on 4400 East Evans Avenue. Westword
The Sweet Leaf dispensary chain's appeal of Denver's revocation of 26 of the company's business licenses was officially dismissed October 4 — but it could be part of a much larger agreement, according to sources near the situation.

The motion to dismiss the appeal was submitted by Sweet Leaf's attorney, Tom Downey, according to documents from the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, and was granted by Denver District Court. That essentially ended the company's fight to keep its dispensaries, cultivations and extraction facilities open in Denver.

The motion to dismiss the appeal could be part of an upcoming agreement between Sweet Leaf ownership, the Denver District Attorney and the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division, according to multiple sources. After relinquishing its appeal, Sweet Leaf reportedly reached an agreement with the MED over the rest of its cannabis operations outside of Denver (all of which have been suspended since July), while Sweet Leaf personnel facing criminal charges have allegedly reached plea agreements with the Denver DA.

MED officials did eventually confirm an agreement between the MED and Sweet Leaf, but Sweet Leaf officials and their attorneys declined comment. DA communications director Ken Lane says he's unaware of any agreement and declined to comment further.

“The vast majority of Denver’s marijuana industry operates legally and have established themselves as legitimate businesses contributing to Denver’s economy. Denver will continue to strictly enforce our marijuana rules and regulations that have played an important role in our successful marijuana management in America’s first major city with legalized recreational marijuana," Excise and Licenses' Ashley Kilroy said in a statement following the appeal's dismissal. "Bad actors de-legitimize the industry, and we will continue to work with our community and the industry to achieve the will of the voters who wanted the end of marijuana prohibition.”

According to Excise and Licenses communications director Eric Escudero, Sweet Leaf's 26 now-defunct business licenses in Denver will not not be reissued to other entities.

Once one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains, Sweet Leaf has been forced to close all of its stores in the state. Eight of its locations in Denver and Aurora were raided in December 2017; according to the Denver Police Department, the stores were conducting illegal cannabis sales known as looping, or selling more cannabis to customers than state law allowed. Sweet Leaf's remaining licenses outside of Denver were suspended by the MED in July for reported violations of the state's medical and retail marijuana codes.

At least eighteen budtenders were arrested in connection with the yearlong Denver investigation, but all of them have seen their charges dismissed. 
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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