Police raid eight Sweet Leaf marijuana dispensaries in Denver and Aurora

Denver police on Thursday raided eight Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center locations in Denver and Aurora and arrested 12 people as part of a yearlong investigation into illegal marijuana sales.

The criminal activities alleged included sales of cannabis in violation of the 1-ounce-per-person limits established under Colorado marijuana law, Denver police officials said in a statement.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses in concert with the police action suspended 26 licenses for medical, retail, cultivation and extraction operations that conduct business as Sweet Leaf, said Dan Rowland, spokesman for the excise and licenses department.

UPDATE Dec. 15, 2017: 13 Sweet Leaf budtenders swept up in Denver police raids

The suspension order stated: “Reasonable grounds and probable cause exists to believe that respondents have engaged in deliberate and willful violations of state and local laws or regulations, and/or that the public health, safety and welfare requires emergency action.”

sweet leaf Denver
Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center at 2609 Walnut St in Denver, displaying a Notice of Suspension from the City of Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. (Alex Pasquariello, The Cannabist)

All Sweet Leaf stores in Colorado — 10 in Denver and one in Aurora — were closed Thursday.

Names of the 12 people arrested were not immediately released. They were being booked into the Downtown Detention Center.

Police said the operation was conducted after a criminal investigation into the illegal distribution of marijuana at eight locations. The alleged criminal violations are related to the sale of marijuana in excess of allowable amounts established by Amendment 64, which allows for the personal use of marijuana, according to a police department news release.

No other marijuana businesses were included in the raids, police said.

Sweet Leaf representatives said in an emailed statement that they were surprised by the police raids.

“It is unclear at this point exactly what actions, if any, Sweet Leaf took to cause the city to issue this order,” the statement said. “Sweet Leaf is cooperating with the authorities to resolve this issue and hopes to have all of their stores back in operation as soon as possible.”

It was not immediately clear to what extent Sweet Leaf’s facilities were affected beyond Denver and Aurora.

Although the Aurora store was raided, and no one answered the location’s phone on Thursday, the city has not suspended Sweet Leaf’s business license for its East Sixth Avenue store, said Julie Patterson, an Aurora spokeswoman.

“We are waiting to receive more information from police investigators to determine whether we need to take any action,” she said.

Sweet Leaf’s dispensary in Portland, Ore., remained opened, a person who answered the store’s phone said. The employee said store officials declined to comment.

The coordinated enforcement action was solely a Colorado agency effort headed by Denver police, which partnered with the Aurora Police Department, Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver City Attorney’s Office, Denver Department of Excise and Licenses and Denver Department of Public Health and Environment.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was not involved in the operation, spokesman Randy Ladd said.
The Sweet Leaf locations in Denver that were raided are:

• 1475 S. Acoma St.
• 2647 W. 38th Ave.
• 5100 W. 38th Ave.
• 4400 E. Evans Ave.
• 2609 Walnut St.
• 4125 N. Elati St.
• 7200 E. Smith Road

The Denver Post’s Noelle Phillips and Cannabist Editor Alex Pasquariello contributed to this report.

Read the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses Order of Summary Suspension against Sweet Leaf

sweet leaf Denver
Sweet Leaf Marijuana Center at 2609 Walnut St in Denver, displaying a Notice of Suspension from the City of Denver Department of Excise and Licenses. (Alex Pasquariello, The Cannabist)

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