DENVER (CBS4) – Federal authorities are planning to crack down on the medical marijuana business in Colorado on a large scale for the first time.

Warning letters will be going out to dispensaries and grow facilities near schools, CBS4 investigator Rick Sallinger has learned. So far it’s not clear how soon that will happen.

Dispensaries that receive the letters will be given 45 days to shut down or move operations. If they don’t comply, they will be shut down by the U.S. attorney in Colorado.

The dispensaries who are set to be targeted are the ones that are located within 1,000 feet of schools. That measurement is being used because that distance already appears in federal law as a factor in drug crime sentencing.

The move comes after the Justice Department sent out a memo clarifying that marijuana has been and remains illegal under federal law despite what has taken place with state regulations. Colorado is one of 16 states where medical marijuana laws have been approved.

RELATED STORY: Justice Department Memo Writer Is Mum On Pot Crackdown

Many of the state’s dispensaries that are closer than 1,000 feet to a school have already been approved to be there under local laws. They usually have been grandfathered in.

That’s the case with the dispensary Rocky Mountain High at 3rd and University in Cherry Creek North. It’s located within of Bromwell Elementary School, but was grandfathered in under Denver municipal laws.

Bromwell Principal Jody Cohn told Sallinger she thinks a crackdown on the dispensary is “vital for the safety and the security of our students and our community.”

CBS4 found several other examples of dispensaries that are clearly within 1,000 feet of a school in Denver. One called Med-Stop that was also approved by the city is diagonally across 8th Avenue from Del Pueblo Elementary School. A measurement by Sallinger showed is was only 161 feet away. Two dispensaries were also spotted right down the block from Morey Middle School.

Robert Corry, an attorney who represents dispensaries, said medical marijuana operations are now strictly regulated under Colorado state laws.

“The federal apparatus here has better things to do,” said Corry. “My reaction would be the federal government is essentially declaring war on the voters of our state (who) passed a Constitutional amendment.”

U.S. attorneys in California recently announced in a separate medical marijuana crackdown that they would be targeting landlords who rent retail space to dispensaries, as well as dispensary owners themselves.

While Med-Stop on 8th Avenue in Denver is across the street from Del Pueblo School, that facility is now used only for administrative purposes. The Denver School for International Studies is located nearby on 6th Avenue. It is not clear if Med-Stop would qualify for an exemption from any federal enforcement action.

Comments (29)
  1. Scott Harmony says:

    Some would seek to regulate marijuana like alcohol. I believe this is a mistake. Cannabis is another natural gift of God, and as such, should not be regulated in any way ! You want to give corrupt politicians now and down the road the power to raise the tax on Cannabis as they do on alcohol, cigarettes and the like, regularly at their whim, and continuing into perpetuity ?! I know it is a matter of people waking up to the spiritual reality of our world and country these days. It is ‘beyond words awesome’ to seek to trust our loving, real, just, faithful, all-powerful God. Or would you rather trust the politician, the sinful man and woman bent on money, without moral compass, corrupt, and lying ? They’re sons and daughters of the original liar whose dominion is this world but whose power is limited by his Creator.
    You want to regulate pot like alcohol ? Prepare to potentially loose your pot and pay increasingly more over time, instead of enjoying a gift made for you from your Creator absolutely free !

    btw, marijuana is a Mexican origin slang name for the plant, while Cannabis (Sat.,Ind.,Rud.) is the recognized scientific name.

  2. DD says:

    MMJ dispensaries are hurting our children. I’m so sorry our state ever approve them. We should repeal our decision. I totally agree with the police crack down.

  3. Expungebob says:

    Regardless of the gibberish some have claimed above, there is in fact a candidate running for the White House in 2012 that will end the FED in more than one way. This includes their meddling in State’s affairs. He’s an honest, credible, educated and principled constitutionalist in the truest sense of the word. He will not bury this made in America industry and he’s rising to the top of the Republican Nomination as you read this.

  4. josh says:

    as an mmj patient in colorado springs…….i can say honestly we already closed down the stores too close to schools and its not that big of a deal. there aren’t xxx shops or liquor stores next to schools for a reason and we have finally gotten some freedom in medicine and colorado already has it the best being the only for profit state, i think the patients should stop going to stores by schools, change your caregiver if its one by a school and the shop owners should recognize and move. same with parks.

  5. citezen80246 says:

    CBS do you have any federal government sources that actually say they are going to crack down in Colorado or are you just speculating based on actions by independent California U.S. Attorneys?<< that is the master question. Dont spread scare tactics, especially when the disp. isnt even across the street from a REAL SCHOOL. c'mon. do some real news reporting.

  6. jacque vodehnal says:

    better be careful who you vote for as our next president, because the republicans and their tea-party cohorts will definitely do all they can to outlaw medical marijuana, and abortion, and state’s rights, and the constitution, and anything else they can think of that does not fit with their convoluted sense of righteousness.

  7. YOUshouldTHINKtwice says:

    COLORADO is the final frontier. WE are going to have to be the one’s that stand up to the federal government. We are the only state with the sense of community that we have and the only state that is educated enough, and in touch enough to understand that the feds are currently taking our rights away from us every chance they get. They are currently trying to take our right to form militia’s and allow for prolonged detention without a trial. Some people believe they are pushing for a civil war no matter what side they presume to take in the media. Civil war is what will scare this country into giving up the few rights they have left. Occupy U.S. is going on for a reason, the people down there have nothing to lose and believe in what they are standing up for, which is civil liberties outlined in our NATION’S CONSTITUTION! The federal government works because WE as citizen’s let it work If they’re not upholding the constitution, they are not doing their jobs. We ARE NOT sheep. We are human beings. Colorado NEEDS an assembly in place (ambassador’s) to deal with the federal government. The MMED is more responsible than any dispensary owner. We voted this into action and Colorado could legalize mmj to anyone over the age of 21. Washington state is pushing for exactly that in 2012.

    With the regulations in place by the state, and as close of an eye that they keep on everyone involved, they should be very reluctant to work with the federal agencies right now. The DEA is desperate for funding. The federal government has become so corrupt in paying itself that sustainability is quickly vanishing. Even if they were to seize millions in assets it would not be enough to patch the hemorrhage in federal spending. The feds have shown little foresight and a complete lack of understanding as representatives of you and me. This will be no different. Colorado is continuing to prove itself as the most competent and forward thinking state in the country. Coloradans are progressive, in touch, active, able, and willing to stand up for our rights, in confidence and knowing that while the person standing next to you doesn’t make the same life choices, it’s inalienable that we’re given those life choices.

    They’re trying to take that away from us and that keeps them on par with Hitler. First it was the mentally disabled, next the gays, then blacks, then JEWS. Nobody stood up the first three times, so who was going to stand up for the Jews? Nobody. If you think this is any different, then sit back, watch FOX, and do nothing while you wait to see if they knock on your door, after all, you do have pornography on your computer and have probably broken more than one crime in the past few days.

  8. Leave Behind says:

    The medical marijuana dispensary Med Stop, that is specifically targeted in this CBS column, has only strengthened the fabric of our community. I have lived across the street from this dispensary for over four years now, and prior to the dispensary being in place, there were frequent gang fights, break-ins, drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes in the back alleys of our neighborhoods. The camera’s associated with the dispensary have definitely acted as a deterrent for these types of crimes, and moreover, the cameras actually helped prosecute a drunk driver this past year who ran a red light on 8th & Galapago St that crashed into my home.

    Interestingly enough, the driver who fled the scene of the crime was found to be legally drunk.

    Another point to note, is the school that CBS refers to that was once located diagonally from Med Stop, hasn’t been used as a school for years. The city has even gone so far as to remove the old school bus stop signs, and open up parking around the building for the community.

  9. Jason says:

    How many constitutional rights is the Federal Government trampling on, both state and federal? The scariest part is very few people care! Today mmj, tomorrow something you care about…

  10. Jay says:

    CBS do you have any federal government sources that actually say they are going to crack down in Colorado or are you just speculating based on actions by independent California U.S. Attorneys?

    1. Gene B. says:

      I was wondering the same exact thng

    2. Gene B. says:

      I was wondering the same exact thing, they have yet to cite any sources and I’ver seen no other reports corroborating their story. This is a waste of Federal dollars either way, if the dispensaries were such a salient issue the state would shut them down…..

  11. Robert Chase says:

    Those determined to shore up the General Assembly’s marijuana distribution system will shrug off this arbitrary Federal action, but the fact is that Colorado’s vaunted, onerous, elaborating system of regulation is regarded as being completely illegitimate by Federal authorities. The unconstitutional laws and regulations under which MMCs, MIPs, and OPGLs now do business have only made everyone involved more vulnerable to Federal criminal liability. If you support the appropriate use of medical cannabis and American freedom, set your sights on the dissolution of the DEA and the repeal of the Controlled Substance Act itself — it is fundamentally wrong policy, both constitutionally and with respect to public health.

    Robert Chase
    Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers
    (720) 213-6497

  12. dispowner80246 says:

    Scare Tactics. (hopefully)

  13. DispOwner80246 says:

    Colorado has to step up and protect these busniess owners. THEY are the ones who collected large sums of money from these owners. THEY are ones who collected and agreed to their locations. Hella lot of Tax dollars and jobs are going to be lost.

    I forsee colorado state being sued if they dont protect their agreements. If the feds do actually do this in Colorado, wouldnt it be fair if the biz owners got their money back?

    The US Attorney General has no idea what is going on.

  14. 420 Colorado says:

    Colorado is the number one pot clown state in the Country right now.

    1. phil says:

      We have a winner folks!!!! Most useless comment currently visible.

  15. Doogie says:

    Okay, come ON CBS, you didn’t do your research! Med Stop is across the street from a Boys and Girls club ADMINISTRATION building, this, is NOT a school, and is not part of the school district. Isn’t it funny that they never mentioned the name of the school across from there, yet named the other school next to the Hash bar and other dispensary. This is BULL

  16. Steve says:

    Federal authorities really have nothing better to do. Everything else is going so well so let’s deflate the only part of the Colorado economy that is providing jobs and taxes and relief for people who can’t afford insurance. I love the Feds!!

  17. Jim P. says:

    I agree and personally don’t have any issue with the presence of the dispensaries. Some owners would benefit from exercising a little better discretion when naming and setting up signage for their businesses, the silly names and tacky advertising certainly isn’t helping their cause. I do have an honest question; are liquor stores prohibited from operating within a certain distance from schools? It seem to me that school faculty should be less concerned with heavily surveilled and regulated dispensaires than they are with liquor stores. When I was in high school (15 years ago) it was VERY easy to acquire pot and there were no dispensaries, I would say one in every ten liquor store patrons was willing buy us booze for no more than a $20 fee.

    1. Dispowner80246 says:

      if there are kids in elementary school that are obtaining red cards (only way to enter a marijuana dispensary) then we have bigger fish to fry. A closed, locked door and the only way in is w/a ID and License is a better deterrent than the feds 1000ft rule

      1. Mike says:

        Let’s get the facts straight. A person under the age of 18 can receive a medical marijuana card. However, they cannot enter a dispensary or purchase medical marijuana anywhere. One of the parents or guardian must be designated as the caregiver. That adult is the person who can enter a dispensary and purchase medical marijuana. On a side note: Why is it such a big deal if a dispensary is 900 feet from a school. Really? Did anybody actually need to leave school to buy their pot? Hmmmm?

    2. Wanda Norgaard says:

      I don’t think the names or advertising is hurting the cause. I for one appreciate having a title of a shop describe what type of shop it is. I like the creativity that the dispensaries have come up with.

      Also don’t think it makes any difference if a dispensary is near a school or not. The dispensaries do not distribute medical marijuana unless they have a doctor’s prescription, and if the law states that nobody under 18 can have a prescription, then it isn’t a problem. Although don’t think that there should be any age limit for a medicine that will benefit a patient.

      1. Jim P. says:

        I don’t have any personal issue with the advertising and signage at all, I agree that in some cases a lack of ambiguity with regard to the shop’s function is a good thing. I do, however, suspect that the uppity folks in Cherry Creek and the suburbs don’t appreciate the names and advertising as we do. Their arguments are predicated on antiquated fears and sensational claims, but they have money and seem to vote in high numbers. I feel that cannabis should be legal, with some regulations, for all purposes. The only point I’m attempting to make is that the signage and advertising give the holy roller prohibitionists more to complain about.

  18. Mile Hi Mmj Patient says:

    These MMCs need to bring the State in as a codefendant as they have collected fees and have started giving out licenses.

    1. Rich Pea says:

      Exactly… the Feds are trampling State’s rights and this needs to stop.

  19. grace says:

    While it is true that the Feds need to go find something better to do–like crack down on the illegal oxycontin prescriptions, it would help a lot if the marijuana dispensaries would NOT sport names like “Rocky Mountain High.’

    1. Wanda says:

      I think sporting names like “Rocky Mountain High” distinguish the dispensaries. No chance of being taken as another type of shop.

      1. Big Thompson says:

        Get Serious! No chance of confusion! How about those who graduated from Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins???

        I’m sure by now most of us have figured out you attended Gateway High, where one can move from one high to a little stronger one.

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