Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Targeted by Colorado's U.S. Attorney May Be Complying With State Law

On Friday I noted that John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, has threatened to prosecute the operators and landlords of 23 medical marijuana dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of a school. Since the 1,000-foot rule is part of Colorado's regulations for dispensaries, I said, Walsh's threats do not necessarily conflict with Attorney General Eric Holder's assurances that the Justice Department won't focus its resources on medical marijuana suppliers who comply with state law. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who has repeatedly pressed the Obama administration to respect his state's laws regarding medical use of marijuana, had a similar reaction to Walsh's letters. But as the Drug Policy Alliance's Bill Piper and the Marijuana Policy Project's Steve Fox both pointed out to me, Colorado's law allows local governments to deviate from the 1,000-foot rule, which applies to "a school, an alcohol or drug treatment facility, or the principal campus of a college, university, or seminary, or a residential child care facility."

Fox notes that Boulder has reduced the minimum distance to 500 feet, while Denver has allowed licensed dispensaries that existed before the state enacted its regulations to remain where they are, even if they are within 1,000 feet of a school. So it is not clear how many of the 23 dispensaries that received letters from Walsh last week, if any, actually are violating state law. Westword reports that several of the 23 dispensaries are in Denver and will now have to find new locations that comply with the 1,000-foot rule. Another complication: Colorado measures distance from a school by the length of the shortest pedestrian route, while the feds measure it as the crow flies. That means some dispensaries could be complying with state law but still be within 1,000 feet of a school under federal law, which (as Walsh noted in his letters) triggers enhanced criminal penalties. Furthermore, Walsh might decide to copy his colleagues in California by adding parks to the list of insulated locations. "If they add parks," a a medical marijuana lawyer tells Westword, "oh shit."

According to the CBS affiliate in Denver, the 23 dispensaries targeted so far are just a start. "More letters will soon will be sent out," it says. A dispensary attorney tells the station "there are far more than just 23 medical marijuana dispensaries located near schools."

Piper says Walsh "is taking a page out of California," where the U.S. attorneys likewise "cite the need to keep dispensaries away from schools," using "protecting the children" as a "fig leaf" for their assault on dispensaries. "If there are violations of state laws (especially zoning violations), then cities, counties, and states can enforce those restrictions," he says. "U.S. attorneys should be focused on real crimes, not going around town with a tape ruler." I agree, and that approach also would prevent the Justice Department from second-guessing state and local officials' interpretations of California's fuzzy rules for patient collectives and cooperatives. But since Colorado, unlike California, has adopted detailed regulations for dispensaries, it should be clear whether a particular operation is complying with state law. More to the point, it should be clear whether that matters to Walsh. If not, Holder's promises mean nothing in practice. 

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  • ||

    The Federal Government no longer cares about what the States have to say or how they want to do things. As far as DC is concerned, the 10th Amendment is extinct.

  • Pair O'Fraiz||

    The War on Drugs is too important to be left to the Attorneys General.

  • robc||

    Its time for at least one Governor to take it seriously. Call up the guard to protect your state.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    From the feds?

  • robc||

    Sure, why not?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I'm with you here. I was just wondering to which threat you alluded (though I should know better than to think that mj is somehow a bigger threat than the government, especially when the worst thing that can happen for smoking weed is getting caught).

  • robc||

    The state has passed laws allowing the dispensaries, so I thought it was obvious the governor would be protecting them from the Feds.

  • ||

    Orville Faubus is smiling in his grave.

  • robc||

    I was thinking more South Carolina in 1861 but yeah.

    The fact that tool X can be used for evil doesnt mean that tool X isnt a good idea. But I think we had this argument yesterday (although I never saw if you responded).

  • ||

    I wasn't making that argument, just pointing out that any attempt to do that is futile as the prez can order your Guard back to their bases.

  • robc||

    Call up the state militia then. If I was governor, I would make sure one existed, just in case I needed it. Always a good idea to have a military force that the President cant touch.

  • Last Son of Krypton AuH20||

    Or just have your cops arrest the FBI. Cite them for "unlawfully detaining citizens"

  • National Security Agency||

    ---Bloodhound v1.02---
    Tracing IP Address: robc

    99 8e 2a bc c1 08 74 42 c5 ca 2e 72 9e 6f e8 e3
    75 39 a3 2e 68 6b 5f 12 6b ff a8 fb da 87 03 76
    62 75 55 7f 87 79 62 44 46 e1 43 7d ea 36 41 c6
    f0 93 f8 03 70 c0 e6 0c 2a 0c 22 54 eb 74 9b f1
    6d a0 b2 85 23 19 a5 d8 0b d3 93 99 12 5d cf c3
    df 9a 99 a2 52 b6 45 e2 ba 90 5e 6d f0 a5 31 83
    ae 45 86 09

  • 420Colorado||

    Locked and loaded, if they come to take your crops have guns and knives ready and shoot to kill. Protect yourself and your garden from police interference.

  • Binky||

    adding parks to the list of insulated locations

    Why not add parking spaces, too? Don't drug deals go down there, too?

  • Robert||

    If it's for the children, then why colleges, universities, and seminaries? Do they figure those are for people sufficiently young to be considered children too?

  • ||

    We can't allow seminarians to be attending classes stoned! (Unless of course it's a Rastafarian seminary)

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Do they figure those are for people sufficiently young to be considered children too?

    According to our government betters, one is a child until the age of 26. The Democrats told me so in PPACA.

  • ||

    So does anyone still believe that Democrats are the best party for ending the war on drugs?

  • Bacachoo||

    So does anyone still believe that the war on drugs is best for ending the Democrat party?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    If only.

  • SIV||

    MNG

  • Eric Holder||

    Colorado measures distance from a school by the length of the shortest pedestrian route, while the feds measure it as the crow flies.

    The stench of marijuana does not respect property lines.

  • ||

    You know, I was wondering about that. I've gotten into arguments with the feds about how far some of our facilities are from the main campus.

    For big buildings like hospitals, it matters whether you start at the main entrance v. other entrances v. the property line, whether you go as the crow flies v. shortest driving route v. shortest pedestrian route, etc.

    Ah, the wonders of micromanaging bureaucracies.

  • ||

    If not, Holder's promises mean nothing in practice.

  • ||

    Holder's promises mean nothing in practice.

  • ||

    Rick Perry is apparently better at remembering military micturition history than cuttable executive departments.

    Perry, a former Air Force pilot, said the four Marines should be appropriately punished. "But going after them as a criminal act, I think (is) really a bad message," he said.

    Suggesting that armed conflict can alter personal behavior, Perry noted that "there is a picture" of legendary Army General George Patton urinating in the Rhine River in Germany near the end of World War Two.

    "Although there's not a picture," Perry added, British Prime Minister Winston "Churchill did the same thing on the Siegfried line," a massive wall of German defenses.
  • robc||

    So, does urinating on an inanimate object really compare to urinating on a corpse, which is, well, another inanimate object?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You have to have intellectual priorities. Does it surprise you that a rank-and-file member of Team RED has more room in his memory for war history than he does for cutting government?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Colorado measures distance from a school by the length of the shortest pedestrian route, while the feds measure it as the crow flies.

    The reason for this is simple.

    Virtually everything is 1000 feet or less (as the crow flies) from a school, park, or other "insulated area."

  • R||

    Yup. Anti-gunners have tried to do this for gun stores, too. Their goal is to drive gun stores and dispensaries completely out of any populated areas, making it difficult for people to visit them, NOT to protect "the children".

  • mad libertarian guy||

    As with everything else, the children are an excuse, not a reason. It's pure political grandstanding and nothing more.

  • ||

    Things would be a lot simpler if we put them in camps.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    We already do. They're called public schools.

  • ||

    If you've never seen a pot-addled child climb a fence, you'd be surprised at how unrestricted to pedestrian paths they can be.

  • ||

    Virtually everything is 1000 feet or less (as the crow flies) from a school, park, or other "insulated area."

    Did anybody check my math that circle with a radius of 1000 feet encompasses, what was it, 72 acres?

  • R||

    That's what I got.

    (π*1000^2)/43,560ft^2 = 72.121

  • Medical Marijuana Cards||

    This is how they shut down over 800 dispensaries in Los Angeles. Basically the whole city falls within proximity to schools parks and other sensitive locations.

  • Monkey||

    No one remembers anything correctly. Patients and caregivers operating under state law is not a good use for federal resources. You all confused patients and caregivers for commercial sales and distribution. The original and all memos and comments from the feds clearly distinguish a difference. Why can't you comprehend what the feds say, instead you add words and interpret, stop doing that and it's clear. MMC's or dispensaries are different than patients and caregivers, stop trying to group them together, both the state and the feds clearly do not see them the same way.

  • ||

    Racist.

  • squishua||

    Since most kids' sources of marijuana are located inside the school itself, maybe these regulations are just to stymie competition?

  • Old Mexican||

    So it is not clear how many of the 23 dispensaries that received letters from Walsh last week, if any, actually are violating state law.


    The good thing for an Attorney General's career is that government laws are that pliable.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    You guys are on the wrong subject. Playoffs men, playoffs.

  • A Serious Man||

    Packers are playing like shit in the first half, dropping passes and losing the football. McCarthy and Capers better chew them out in the locker room at the half.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    How bad was the call on that "nonfumble"? I'm listening on the radio so I couldn't see it myself.

  • A Serious Man||

    Pretty bad. I mean the ball was coming loose and it didn't look like the knee was down.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Atrocious. That they didn't get it right screams that the refs REALLY like GB for this game.

    It wasn't even close.

  • 420Colorado||

    Keep up with all the Colorado marijuana news and fun on http://420.co including maps to the Breckenridge smoke shacks

  • rather||

    Medical marijuana will be accepted by the feds and perhaps promoted but it will not be without their dominion; pharma and government will conspire to make certain that societies' acceptance will benefit their coffers. The practice is footheld elsewhere

  • El Commentariosa||

    Perry: Marines shouldn't be prosecuted for urinating on corpses (but gays be damned, and may abortion be illegal!)
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....stan-video

  • ||

    Hello and welcome to 4:18pm

  • ||

    Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child or grandchild thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.
    If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let's put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. It's time to let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.
    We can email our Congressperson and Senators at http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml to discuss HR 2306, the proposed Federal law that will get the Federal government out of the marijuana business and let states make their own laws.
    And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!

  • ||

    Hey dogs out there. I know that you know that you know that you are just jacking off. To both the ones stuck on a sunday night monitoring this lame site full of opinionated assholes and the AG's, ..... it feels like we are on the cusp of something. I feel it the same way I felt the bloodlust after 9/11. Should it that happen and there are people lined up against the wall. I hope it is you. I'm gonna record it on double 1080P in Dolby Digital Surround sound. and make it a ritual to jack off to that video once a week. At least I can always dream...

    ...cuz what would really happen is that the stupid American sheep would drag the engineers, farmers, and doctors to the firing line.

  • ||

    Have you tried casualmingle dot 'c o m, a wonderful place where you can find the right one for you or just dating or one night stand thing. It is all up to you, come on and sign up free, nothing loose if you do not like it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Elliot Spitzer recommends it.

  • ||

    I don't suppose ezhookup-dot-com is available?

  • orwelliannightmare||

    THIS IS SUCH BS!!! So you can have a pharmacy or gas station or walmart near a school and there are THOUSANDS of things that could kill a kid or get him high in a walmart, but yeh marijuana, which hasn't killed anyone in 10,000 years of written human history is subject to illegal regulations...

  • orwelliannightmare||

    THIS IS SUCH BS!!! So you can have a pharmacy or gas station or walmart near a school and there are THOUSANDS of things that could kill a kid or get him high in a walmart, but yeh marijuana, which hasn't killed anyone in 10,000 years of written human history is subject to illegal regulations...

  • ||

    These morons....THE UNITED STATES....CONSTITUTION.......GAVE SPECIFIC POWERS TO THE STATES........ONE OF THESE BEING, THE CHOICE FOR THEM TO HAVE AND MAKE...THEIR OWN LAWS!!!!!!! This is so ridiculous the Federal Govt. Feels the need to demean and criminalize FUCKING PLANT!!!!!!!!!!!

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