Photo via Sweet Leaf
One of Colorado's largest cannabis enterprises just lost their right to do business in Denver after getting busted for selling unlawful amounts of weed to their customers. Sweet Leaf, a successful canna-company operating a number of legally licensed cultivation and processing facilities as well as dispensaries all across the state, was the subject of a year-long investigation by local authorities working to crack down on “looping,” the practice of selling customers more marijuana than state law allows.
Colorado law only allows a customer to buy one ounce of cannabis per day, but Sweet Leaf argued that this one-ounce limit was actually per transaction. The company reportedly used this justification to allow customers to purchase more pot than legally allowed, and continued to do so even after the state's Marijuana Enforcement Division specifically warned them to stop. Late last year, police raided eight of the company's stores in Denver and Aurora, along with three other dispensaries, for looping weed.
In March and April, Denver officials held hearings on disciplinary actions against stores accused of looping. City attorneys showed up with reams of evidence against Sweet Leaf, including video of undercover cops purchasing prohibited amounts of weed from their stores, as well as interviews with the company's employees. Between 2016 and 2017, the attorneys estimated that one single Sweet Leaf dispensary made over 1,000 looping transactions, netting the company an additional $4 million.
This week, Ashley Kilroy, executive director of the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses, revoked all 26 of Sweet Leaf's medical and recreational cannabis licenses, effectively preventing the company from continuing to do business in the city of Denver. The company has the right to appeal this decision to the Denver District Court, but has not yet announced any intention of doing so.
“Enforcing rules when violations occur is an essential part of Denver’s successful regulation of one of the largest legalized marijuana markets in the world,” Kilroy said in a statement reported by Westword. "Sweet Leaf’s illegal actions undermine the entire regulatory framework created by Amendment 64, the General Assembly and Denver City Council. This decision supports the will of the voters for a regulated legal marijuana market, safeguards the legal marijuana industry, and protects the safety and welfare of the public.”
Sweet Leaf still runs three other dispensaries in the state, which are not affected by this ruling and remain open. Many of the company's budtenders had been arrested in connection with the investigation, but the majority of them have now been released without criminal charges.