Moral Low Ground


Despite Federal Crackdown, Colorado becomes First State to License Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Colorado has become the first state in the nation to issue government business licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries despite a growing federal crackdown on such enterprises.

According to the Denver Post, licenses have been issued to 11 dispensaries in Boulder, Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Littleton. Additionally, the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Department of Revenue has notified seven more dispensaries that they will receive licenses. The state has also sent letters to 467 additional dispensaries and cannabis-related product-makers to verify that they have local approval, one of the last steps in the process of obtaining a license.

The first business to receive a license was Dr. J’s in Denver, owned by Tom Sterlacci. “It’s very historic,” Sterlacci told the Post. “Now we’re not standing alone with the feds. We have the city and the state standing with us.”

Colorado is acting boldly in the face of escalating federal hostility towards states’ medical marijuana laws. Despite pledging not to go after medicinal cannabis users and suppliers so long as they followed state laws, the Obama administration has recently reversed its stance: earlier this month, federal prosecutors in California sent letters to landlords renting to dispensaries ordering them to halt marijuana sales or risk property seizures and criminal charges. This crackdown has caught many by surprise.

“It’s coming out of left field as far as we’re concerned,” Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group, told the Los Angeles Times.  “I really don’t know what inspired this. It’s a complete about-face from what [Obama] said when he was campaigning.”

Despite the fact that the U.S. attorneys who initiated the latest anti-marijuana offensive have taken great pains in an attempt to absolve President Obama of involvement in the new stance, it is difficult to believe that the crackdown could proceed without the knowledge and at least tacit approval of the President and Attorney General Eric Holder.

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