Police group protests federal pot crackdown
U.S. Attorney John Walsh should not be going after Colorado licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, a national group of former law enforcement members said Monday.
In a sternly worded letter to the top federal prosecutor in the state, the group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, told Walsh that it isn’t his job to go after dispensaries in the state because they are too close to schools or other areas where children frequent.
Earlier this month, Walsh sent letters to 23 Colorado dispensaries and their landlords, warning that they are too close to schools and face criminal prosecution if they don’t close or move by the end of next month.
But the law enforcement group, which includes several Colorado members, said he’s stepping over the line.
“Almost two years ago, in a bipartisan fashion, the Colorado Senate and House of Representatives enacted a strict dual licensing system for medical marijuana centers that requires a license by local and state government,” the group said in its letter. “All the businesses you have targeted are operating with approval from their local governments and the state of Colorado.”
State law bars dispensaries from locating within 1,000 feet of a school or other establishment where children frequent. Walsh spokesman Jeff Dorschner, however, said there are many more than just the 23 dispensaries that are within that limit.
Dorschner said his boss has received the letter, but was not yet prepared to comment on it.
Still, he said Walsh’s intent is to enforce federal law, which doesn’t recognize marijuana use for any purpose, much less medicinal.
“After numerous contacts with local law enforcement, education leaders as well as medical professionals, (Walsh) thought it important to take steps to protect children from the effect of marijuana,” Dorschner said. “Our interest is federal law. Our charge ... is to prosecute violations of federal law. I’m not making any statement about state law.”
The group, which comprises retired and active police officers, government attorneys and judges, formed to advocate the legalization of all drugs, in part to reduce organized criminal activity surrounding them, said the group’s San Francisco-based media director, Tom Angell.
“Whether the U.S. attorney likes it or not, people in Colorado are going to be using marijuana for medical purposes,” Angell said. “The question is, do we want them to buy that from legal and regulated stores that pay taxes, or do we want them to buy it from criminals on the street?”