U.S. Attorney John Walsh Responds To Boulder DA Stan Garnett's Defense Of Colorado's Marijuana Dispensaries

After a late-February federal crackdown forced the closure of 22 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado, shop owners have warily considered the possibility they're the next target. And while Westword has provided a handy 'Doomsday Map' to help predict shops facing the most danger, Boulder District Attorney Stan Garnett has gone one step further.

Garnett sent a letter earlier in March to U.S. Attorney John Walsh, seeking to persuade Walsh that Colorado's regulations on marijuana are sufficient and effective. As such, medical marijuana should not constitute a priority for law enforcement. In the letter, Garnett recommends law enforcement focus instead on "terrorism, serious economic crime, organized crime and serious drug dealing (involving significant amounts of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine)."

"I can see no legitimate basis in this judicial district to focus the resources of the United States government on the medical marijuana dispensaries that are otherwise compliant with Colorado law or local regulation," he continues. "The people of Boulder County do not need Washington D.C. or the federal government dictating how far dispensaries should be from schools, or other fine points of local land use law."


While Walsh's spokesman initially told Westword his boss did not intend to respond to the letter publicly, Walsh responded via letter March 20.

In a copy of the letter obtained by the Denver Post, Walsh references the Ogden and Cole memos as justification for anti-marijuana enforcement. He cedes, however, that prosecution of individual users and caregivers may not be "the best use of federal law enforcement resources," choosing to focus instead on "the protection of children and young people from drugs and drug abuse."

The correspondence reiterates Walsh's intent to close all dispensaries operating within 1,000 feet of a school, and notes these closures are "not at the direction of Washington, D.C., but [at Walsh's direction] as U.S. Attorney and as a Coloradan."

According to the Denver Post, Walsh says he has received an "outpouring of thanks and appreciation" for the first wave of dispensary closures.

Boulder's current regulations require dispensaries be at least 500 feet from a school. The Daily Camera estimates 12 dispensaries currently violate the federal enforcement of a 1,000 foot school buffer, but none were targeted in the first wave of closures.