Business

TweedLeaf Dispensaries Shut Down Across Colorado Over Unpaid Taxes

TweedLeaf operates seven stores across Colorado.
TweedLeaf operates seven stores across Colorado. Thomas Mitchell
TweedLeaf, a dispensary chain with seven stores across Colorado, has been temporarily shut down by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division over unpaid taxes, according to public notices posted on TweedLeaf storefronts.

The MED declined to comment further, citing an open investigation, but confirmed that on August 2, the MED and Colorado Department of Revenue's taxation division suspended eighteen medical and recreational business licenses under the TweedLeaf umbrella, which account for seven stores, five cultivations and three processing facilities.

TweedLeaf CEO John Kaweske confirmed the closures to Westword, estimating that the company owes $300,000 or $400,000 in state taxes. According to notices posted on TweedLeaf stores, the unpaid taxes date back to November of last year, with at least one Denver store on the hook for over $127,000.

"We've been trying to negotiate with the state about it for a while. We thought they were going to give us a little more time," Kaweske says. "We still don't know the exact amount we owe as we wait. We were surprised they took such an aggressive stance against us."

According to Kaweske, TweedLeaf had overpaid the state by about $500,000 before falling behind; he says he hoped that the company would receive credits to help balance the payments it had missed. His lawyer is in contact with the DOR to figure out the exact amount the company owes the state, he adds.
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A closure notice from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division posted on a TweedLeaf store at 2383 South Downing Street.
Thomas Mitchell
Colorado dispensaries broke marijuana sales records in 2021, bringing in over $2.2 billion. Sales volume and wholesale marijuana prices began falling last summer, however. May 2022 was the twelfth straight month of falling dispensary sales on a year-over-year basis, while the price of wholesale marijuana flower fell almost 60 percent on average since January of last year, according to MED data.

TweedLeaf was one of the larger dispensary operations in the state, with five dispensaries in Denver alone. However, the company sold two Denver dispensaries — one at 755 South Jason Street and another at 800 Park Avenue West — to Universal Herbs earlier this year.

"Our business is suffering as a result of inflation and the economy. Sales are 40 percent lower than they were a year ago because of oversupply in the industry," Kaweske says, adding that TweedLeaf's average transaction amount has dropped about $10 since 2021.

TweedLeaf also has recreational stores in Central City and Trinidad, as well as three medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado Springs, all of which have been closed by the MED. Kaweske says medical marijuana sales accounted for about half of TweedLeaf's overall revenue before 2022, when a new law limiting medical marijuana concentrate sales took effect.

"I think that greatly impacted us. What impacted us most, though, was the state not allowing patients to get medical marijuana cards online," Kaweske says, pointing to a state law banning telemedicine for medical marijuana applications and renewals.

According to Kaweske, TweedLeaf "has had to let some staff go" but still hopes to reopen, though he can't offer a timeline at this point.

TweedLeaf is the second major operation to be shut down over unpaid taxes this summer. In June, the Denver Department of Finance closed all seven Buddy Boy dispensaries over approximately $500,000 in unpaid sales taxes. According to the City of Denver, the TweedLeaf disciplinary action was a state operation and did not involve any city delinquency.
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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 westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell