Colorado pot companies complying with state could face federal charges under enforcement plan

Kirk Mitchell
The Denver Post

In an aggressive new tactic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver says it’s shifting its marijuana enforcement from busting illegal grow operations to targeting dispensaries that use their licensed businesses and legal grows as fronts for the more lucrative illegal drug trade.

This new approach, however, also could lead to federal charges being brought against marijuana businesses that are in full compliance with Colorado law and not selling pot on the black market, U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer acknowledged in an interview with The Denver Post this week.

“We could,” Troyer said when asked whether his office might prosecute marijuana businesses operating legally under Colorado law. “We make decisions based on safety. Sometimes compliance with state law is relevant to that, and sometimes it’s not. We do not make decisions based on labels like ‘compliance with state law.’ Labels are not relevant to us — people’s safety is.”

Troyer offered no further explanation of the circumstances under which he would pursue federal charges against marijuana businesses in full compliance with Colorado laws.

But very soon, he said, his office — working with Colorado drug task forces — will take enforcement action against an unnamed chain of licensed marijuana dispensaries in the Denver metro area that he alleges is an illegal drug-trafficking organization disguised as a legitimate pot business. The action will come within two weeks, he said.

For more on this story, go to