MMED to begin investigation of the Mother Earth Medical Marijuana Center

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Denver – October 7, 2011 In the culmination of a joint investigation, the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED) partnered with the TRIDENT Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team to investigate alleged illegal activity taking place at a Medical Marijuana Center in Carbondale, CO.

The MMED began an investigation of the Mother Earth Medical Marijuana Center after receiving information that the Center sold to individuals without the statutorily required documentation and was selling or offering to sell illegal drugs. The MMED contacted the TRIDENT Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team and in a collaborative effort were able to determine that the Center owner was indeed engaging in illegal activity. The TRIDENT/MMED joint operation yielded evidence of an illegal Medical Marijuana purchase and the sale of suspected cocaine to an undercover officer.

Today, the Center owner has been arrested and the Center and its Cultivation shut down. Further investigation into other individuals that may be involved is ongoing, and additional arrests may be made as a result of this joint operation. All Medical Marijuana has been confiscated by the MMED and the Center/Cultivation application for a State MMED business license has been officially denied. Today is an example of how the MMED provides a valuable resource for other law enforcement agencies by partnering with them to provide both agencies with increased manpower and institutional knowledge to stop illegal activity within Colorado’s Medical Marijuana industry and our state.

Division Director Dan Hartman said “While the MMED is currently working to educate members of the Medical Marijuana industry and bring them into compliance with current statute and rule, we will not hesitate to take immediate action when we are made aware of blatant illegal activity. Due to Colorado’s unambiguous regulatory scheme we were able to identify an industry member that was not operating in compliance with the law and partner with the local authority to take action. It is gratifying to have the opportunity to work with our fellow law enforcement officers to make Colorado’s Medical Marijuana industry a safe place for patients to purchase this medicinal product” – said Hartman. “In this time of limited funding, TRIDENT and the MMED were able to pool their resources to put an end to this illegal drug activity and ensure the integrity of the industry we regulate.”

Today also helps validate the large majority of Medical Marijuana business owners that work hard to operate within our state’s regulatory scheme. These small business owners have spent a great deal of time and money to do so and are directly impacted by businesses not interested in compliance. The MMED will continue to investigate and stop illegal activity within our industry.

The TRIDENT Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team was established in 1994 and is based in Glenwood Springs. This task force unites participating agencies within Garfield County to directly address illegal drug activity and decrease the amount of illegal drugs available within area served by TRIDENT. Participating agencies include: Carbondale Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Glenwood Springs Police Department, Rifle Police Department, Rocky Mountain High- Intensity Drug Trafficking, Silt Police Department and the Vail Police Department. In order to obtain additional information about TRIDENT visit their web site at http://tridentnarc.com/

The MMED was created through legislation in the 2010 Legislative Session and is tasked with regulation of the commercial Medical Marijuana industry. The agency has been operational since July 1 2010, and is establishing a robust monitoring system for this industry. More information on the MMED may be found on our web site at www.colorado.gov/revenue/medicalmarijuana

California Medical Marijuana Dispensary Crack Down

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Federal prosecutors announced Friday the government would aggressively crack down on California medical marijuana dispensaries.

Federal officials say offenders are using the cover of medical marijuana to sell drugs through storefronts.

Officials are targeting dispensaries located near schools, playgrounds, parks and sports fields where children are likely to congregate.

Arrests and indictments in California have been made in recent days by federal officials.

As part of a coordinated effort by California’s four United States Attorneys, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles have taken a series of actions against illegal commercial marijuana operations, including a building in South Orange County that houses eight marijuana stores and a trafficking ring that sold marijuana at its San Fernando Valley storefront, and sent marijuana to customers as far away as New York state.

The actions announced Friday in the Central District of California include:

    • A criminal indictment that charges six people with marijuana trafficking that allegedly generated nearly $15 million in profits in only eight months
    • The filing of civil forfeiture lawsuits against three properties and a related seizure of more than $135,000 from the bank account of one property owner
    • Warning letters sent to the operators and landlords of 38 marijuana stores.

Haag said the move is not designed to clamp down on patients who grow their own marijuana for medical use. But dispensaries that were not part of the initial wave of warning letters “shouldn’t take any comfort,” she said. “They are illegal under federal law.”

The move comes a little more than two months after the Obama administration toughened its stand on medical marijuana. For two years before that, federal officials had indicated they would not move aggressively against dispensaries in compliance with laws in the 16 states where pot is legal for people with doctors’ recommendations.

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, all known marijuana stores in the following areas are being sent letters warning that their operations are in violation of federal law:

    • Orange County: Lake Forest, Dana Point, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, and Rancho Santa Margarita
    • Riverside County: Murrieta, Wildomar, Temecula
    • Inland Empire: Pomona, Claremont, Upland, Montclair, Chino

According to a spokesman for the U.S. attorney, at this time no cities in Ventura County are being targeted. But he said this is an initial phase and more locations will likely be added at a later date. warning letters sent to the operators and landlords of 38 marijuana stores.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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