There is no such thing as a safe harbor for medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, according to the federal prosecutor there.
U.S. Attorney John Walsh on Friday sent a letter to a lawyer representing medical marijuana dispensaries, saying safe harbor doesn’t exist for any such shops because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, reports the Associated Press.
Walsh and medical marijuana attorney Robert Corry have exchanged several letters regarding the locations of dispensaries and how far they must be from schools in order to be safe from federal raids.
It is at his office’s discretion to take enforcement actions against any and all medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, Walsh said in his newest letter.
|The U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Colorado|
|U.S. Attorney John Walsh’s Friday letter said there are no safe harbors for medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado|
”That’s an awesome amount of power that the law does not intend to hand to a single federal prosecutor,” Corry countered on Friday.
Corry had sent a letter to Walsh querying him on where the line is drawn on federal enforcement against Colorado’s dispensaries. On January 12, Walsh had told 23 dispensaries — all located within 1,000 feet of a school — to close by February 27 or face penalties.
A letter sent to one of the dispensaries was later withdrawn because the school building nearby isn’t used for educating children. All the shops met the deadline and closed without incident.
Corry took that to mean that the federal government was saying as long as dispensaries weren’t near schools, they were safe from raids and prosecution.
Walsh responded with his Friday letter saying that Corry advising his clients there is a safe harbor from federal enforcement is “incorrect and untruthful, and would mislead them, factually and legally.”
There are other factors that can play into the decision to close down a particular shop, such as unlawful use or possession of firearms and having amounts of marijuana in excess of state and local laws, according to Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Dorschner said it’s “not possible” to answer whether dispensaries in compliance with all state rules and regulations which are not located near schools would still face federal trouble.
Corry said Walsh’s “no safe harbors” letter foments uncertainty among medicinal cannabis workers. That uncertainty brings an “entire economic sector of Colorado on its knees,” he said.
Corry said he plans to draft a response to Walsh’s latest letter, clarifying under what federal laws the shops can operate.