Boulder DA asks feds to back off on medical marijuana dispensaries

It’s such a crime Stan Garnett lost his run for Attorney General three years ago. He only lost by 2,000 votes or so.

Colorado would be in an ENTIRELY different position today, if Stan would have won that race.

Take heed Colorado. Be sure you get behind this man politically, and THANK HIM for his actions now.

Boulder DA asks feds to back off on medical marijuana dispensaries

POSTED:   03/14/2012 11:40:13 AM MDT
UPDATED:   03/14/2012 12:19:32 PM MDT

By John Ingold
The Denver Post

Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett has sent a letter to the top federal prosecutor in Colorado, asking the feds to drop their crack-down on medical-marijuana dispensaries that are abiding by state law.

In the letter, dated Tuesday, Garnett writes that Colorado has created a system for regulating medical-marijuana businesses that is working and argues it is not worth the federal government’s time to target dispensaries abiding by state law.

“I can see no legitimate basis in this judicial district to focus the resources of the United States government on the medical marijuana dispensaries that are otherwise compliant with Colorado law or local regulation,” Garnett wrote in the letter to Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh. “The people of Boulder County do not need Washington D.C. or the federal government dictating how far dispensaries should be from schools, or other fine points of local land-use law.”

Garnett’s letter comes following the most direct crack-down yet in Colorado on dispensaries by federal law enforcement officials. Earlier this year, Walsh sent letters to 23 medical-marijuana dispensaries that were within 1,000 feet of a school, ordering them to close or face civil or criminal punishment. All those ordered to do so shut their doors.

Colorado law establishes a 1,000-foot buffer between dispensaries and schools but also allows communities to vary the distance or grandfather in pre-existing businesses. All the dispensaries that received letters were apparently complying with state and local laws.

But federal law makes all marijuana possession and sales illegal. Drug sales within 1,000 feet of a school bring enhanced penalties. Walsh said he sent the letters because he’s concerned that the presence of medical-marijuana businesses near schools may be encouraging the increase the state is seeing in youth use of marijuana.

Walsh has said more letters to other dispensaries near schools are possible.

In his letter, Garnett said federal law enforcement officials should instead focus elsewhere: on terrorism, organized crime or major trafficking of hard drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine. Continuing to target dispensaries, Garnett wrote, “would be very disruptive to communities who have spent significant time and resources exercising their right of local control to balance the competing issues around medical marijuana.”

John Ingold: 303-954-1068 orjingold@denverpost.com

Read more:Boulder DA asks feds to back off on medical marijuana dispensaries – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_20172102/boulder-da-asks-feds-back-off-medical-marijuana#ixzz1p7JpKFwT
Read The Denver Post’s Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

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And some follow-up from the Westword:

http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2012/03/marijuana_stan_garnett_letter_us_attorney_john_walsh_feds.php

In 2009, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett said he wanted to be the state’s most progressive DA regarding medical marijuana, and he accepted MMJ industry support during his failed effort to defeat state Attorney General John Suthers. Unsurprisingly, then, he’s no fan of U.S. Attorney John Walsh’s seizure letters to MMCs near schools — a point he stresses in his own letter to Walsh, which asks the feds to back off Boulder dispensaries. Read it below.

In the missive, dated March 13, Garnett notes that he’s seen “the law of medical marijuana and the dispensary business develop in Colorado ever since passage of Amendment 20,” and in his view, “the industry has developed and adapted to Colorado’s statutory and local land use and regulatory schemes.” The result is “a maturing business that pays substantial tax revenue” and fits “within the fabric of this community.”

As such, Garnett continues, he has “watched with some interest as the United States government, the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office have issued repeated and sometimes conflicting messages about medical marijuana over the last three years, culminating in the recent comments in the March 7, 2012 Denver Post of the new SAC of DEA, Barbara Roach.” For one thing, Roach told the Post she was looking to move into a community that had banned MMJ retail operations.

john walsh photo.jpg
John Walsh.

In Garnett’s opinion, “the resources of the United States Attorney’s Office should be focused elsewhere: on terrorism, serious economic crime, organized crime and serious drug dealing (involving significant amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine). I can see no legitimate basis in this judicial district to focus the resources of the United States government on the medical marijuana dispensaries that are otherwise compliant with Colorado law or local regulation.

“Accordingly…I am urging you to exercise your prosecutorial discretion to back away from the threatened criminal prosecution of medical marijuana dispensaries in Boulder County if they are compliant with state law and local land use regulations,” he goes on, adding, “In my opinion, such prosecution would serve no practical purpose, would expend important resources and would be very disruptive to communities who have spent significant time and resources exercising their right of local control to balance the competing issues around medical marijuana.”

We’ve put in a call to Garnett on this issue; if and when he responds, we’ll update this post. As for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, spokesman Jeff Dorschner says, “the U.S. Attorney received his letter late last night and is in the process of reviewing it. At the appropriate time, the U.S. Attorney will respond directly back to the district attorney.”

Dorschner points out that “our office has always had a positive working relationship with Garnett.” But he gives no hint that the letter may result in a change of policy. “Our office continues to look at the marijuana stores that are going to be the subject of phase two of this initiative,” he emphasizes. “Those letters will likely be going out soon.”

Here’s the complete text of Garnett’s letter to U.S. Attorney John Walsh.

Stan Garnett Letter to US Attorney John Walsh

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