Pubdate: Sun, 04 Mar 2012
Source: Summit Daily News (CO)
Copyright: 2012 Summit Daily News


DENVER - The U.S. attorney in Colorado says there is no such thing as 
"safe harbor" for pot shops.

U.S. Attorney John Walsh sent a letter Friday to a lawyer representing
medical marijuana dispensaries, saying safe harbor doesn't exist for
such shops because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. It was
the latest in an exchange of letters between Walsh and lawyer Robert
Corry regarding the location of dispensaries and how far they need to
be from schools.

Walsh said in the new letter that it is at his office's discretion to
take enforcement action against any and all medicinal marijuana

"That's an awesome amount of power that the law does not intend to
hand to a single federal prosecutor," Corry said Friday.

Corry had sent a letter to Walsh in an attempt to pin down where the
line is drawn on federal enforcement in Colorado shops.

On Jan. 12, Walsh told 23 Colorado dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a
school to close by Feb. 27 or face penalties. A letter sent to one of
the dispensaries was later withdrawn because the school building near
it isn't used for educating children. All the shops met deadline and
closed without incident.

Corry concluded that as long as shops were not near schools, they were
safe from prosecution.

Walsh responded Friday that advising clients that there is a safe
harbor is "incorrect and untruthful, and would mislead them, factually
and legally."

Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, said there
are other factors that can close down shops like unlawful use or
possession of a firearm and having amounts of marijuana not in
compliant with state and local law.

Possible civil or criminal remedies include seizing the building where
a shop operates and jail time for shop keepers.

Dorschner said it's not possible to answer whether a shop in
compliance with state rules and regulations and not located near a
school would still face any trouble.

Corry said the U.S. attorney's letter regarding no safe harbors allows
an air of uncertainty among medicinal marijuana workers. The
uncertainty brings an "entire economic sector of Colorado on its
knees," Corry said.

Corry said he plans to draft a response to Walsh's latest letter
clarifying under what federal laws the shops can operate.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.