DENVER - Federal agents raided multiple marijuana facilities around Denver and Boulder Thursday morning.
Items were seized from various locations, according to Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver. Authorities wouldn't disclose the addresses involved, because a judge has sealed the court records regarding raids.
No one had been arrested by midday.
While federal enforcement in states where recreational or medical marijuana use has been decriminalized hasn't been a top priority, a Aug. 29 memo from the Department of Justice to federal prosecutors indicates exceptions for cases involving drug cartels, firearms or children – or when a seemingly legitimate business is being used as a cover for criminal activity.
In response to news reporters' questions about the raids, the U.S. Attorney’s Office issued this statement: "While the investigation is ongoing, there are strong indications that more than one of the eight federal prosecution priorities identified in the Department of Justice’s August guidance memo are potentially implicated."
The eight federal prosecution priorities are:
--Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors
--Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels
--Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states.
--Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity
--Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
--Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use.
--Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands
--Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property
The U.S. Attorney’s Office released this statement Thursday:
“The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations, the Denver Police Department and state and local law enforcement are today executing lawfully obtained search warrants and seizure warrants. One important note: Although we cannot at this time discuss the substance of this pending investigation, the operation under way today comports with the Department’s recent guidance regarding marijuana enforcement matters. As this is an on-going investigation, no additional information will be made available.”
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said it is clear the raids are not the federal government cracking down on Colorado's budding marijuana industry.
"This really has nothing to do with Amendment 64 or the whole medical marijuana system," said Tvert. "It might basically be a matter of a few businesses being investigated because they were suspected of being involved in some sort of activity not in compliance with state law."
Tvert said the raids show regulation is working in Colorado.
"We don't know if these businesses did anything wrong, but when one liquor store sells illegally to a minor it doesn't mean that the entire system of regulating is a problem. It means one business is a problem," said Tvert.