Late last year the popular marijuana dispensary chain, Sweet Leaf, was shut down after a police sting uncovered an illicit looping sales scheme that was being used to allow customers to buy far more than the legal daily amount of marijuana that an individual is entitled to. As all marijuana retailers know, a customer may only buy 1 ounce from them per day. Now, Sweet Leaf has been labeled as a criminal enterprise because they began allowing customers to purchase the maximum amount repetitively throughout the same day.
The finding comes after police undertook a year-long undercover investigation into illegal marijuana sales in Colorado. After this, police raided a total of 8 Sweet Leaf stores, which resulted in more than a dozen people being arrested. The arrested included staff and customers alike. With their cases still in pre-trail phases, their fates are unknown.
As for Sweet Leaf, their fate—as recommended by Suzanne Fasing, a Denver Hearing Officer—is that all of their 26 centers be stripped of all of their retail, cultivation, and manufacturing licenses. In her recommendations, Fasing wrote that Sweet Leaf “actively aided and abetted the illegal purchases [of marijuana]”, arguing that they should, therefore, be punished accordingly.
As it stands, Sweet Leaf’s licenses have only been suspended. However, the reach of their looping scheme is far reaching. Fasing reported that at least half of those involved in the looping scheme had out-of- state IDs. Fasing found that many buyers were obtaining marijuana for the purpose of reselling it in their home states of Arkansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas here marijuana is illegal. That Sweet Leaf may have enabled drug smuggling, and the illegal sales of marijuana in other states is yet another aspect of the case.
However, Sweet Leaf’s attorneys argue that prior to January 1, Colorado’s marijuana rules stated that each individual sale of recreational marijuana had to be 1 ounce or less but, they argue, the rules did not state that multiple sales of 1 ounce of less would be deemed illegal. Fasing refutes these claims and said that a Marijuana Enforcement Division public notice outlined that multiple sales to the same individual in one day that amount to over 1 ounce in total may be seen as “an attempt to evade quantity limitations”. As it stands, the debate is still hot among the public as to what degree of punishment Sweet Leaf should incur. The ultimate decision will rest in the hands of the city’s director of marijuana policy, Ashley Kilroy. If Kilroy is to take the recommendations of Fasing’s, then Sweet Leaf could be facing the complete devastation of their empire and a plethora of criminal charges for all of those involved.