7 Denver pot shops busted for selling recreational marijuana to underage customers

DENVER - Seven recreational marijuana stores in Denver were cited with a misdemeanor for allegedly selling pot to minors.

The stores were busted after 25 members with the Denver Police Department’s Vice and Drug Control Bureau, along with criminal investigators from the State of Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED), conducted an operation focused on the sale of retail marijuana to people under 21 years old.

Below is a map of the recreational marijuana shops that were cited:

"Through the operation we made sure [that] we were giving [them] full opportunity to do the right thing and unfortunately, they failed to make the test," said Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson.

In all, 30 businesses were visited and investigated.

"We are disappointed," MED Director Lewis Koski said in a statement. "Up until now these compliance checks have been a bright spot for the industry. This recent check drops compliance to 92 percent. Even though there have not been any repeat violations at the same licensed premises, this represents a downward trend in compliance that is concerning."

The busts are disturbing to industry leaders who stress that following the rules fuels success.

"Part of regulating marijuana is keeping it out of the hands of children," said Brian Ruden, owner of the Starbuds dispensary chain. His stores were not cited in the sweep.

"Selling marijuana is a privilege. We want to be able to continue to do that,” he said. “One-hundred percent compliance is very possible and that should be expected," added Ruden.

By law, recreational marijuana businesses cannot sell weed to people under 21, otherwise they face suspension, a fine per individual violation, a fine in lieu of suspension of up to $100,000, and/or license revocation. 

The Denver Police Department will be filing administrative cases with the City Attorney’s Office in regards to the rule violations by the businesses, the DPD spokesperson said. 

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