Tag: Colorado

‘Beyonce Takes THC’: The Week in Cannabis Quotes

Another week, another bunch of people using their mouths—and sometimes their forefingers—to say things about cannabis. From Toronto snow graffiti to politicians’ proclamations, here’s a roundup of the week’s most notable cannabis quotables.

“New Jersey may legalize marijuana. Massachusetts already has. On the other hand, Attorney General Sessions says he’s going to end marijuana in every state. So you have the whole confluence of different information. I think we should fund [the Department of Health] to do a study. Let them work with state police and other agencies to look at the health impact and economic impact.”

– New York Governor Mario Cuomo, addressing the State Legislature and proposing a study to determine the impacts of legalizing cannabis in New York State

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Late last year, the conservative Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch made a splash by coming out swinging for medical marijuana. This week, he lit up Twitter for removing glasses he’s not wearing.

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Meanwhile in Colorado: What do legal cannabis dispensaries do for home values? The answer may surprise you!

“We went into the project and we weren’t really sure what to expect. We thought maybe there would be a negative impact. I think our takeaway after working on the project was that we don’t see a negative effect—we see results point to a positive effect.”

– James Conklin, University of Georgia real-estate professor and co-author of the study  ‘Contact High: The External Effects of Retail Marijuana Establishments on House Prices,’ which found that after Denver legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, single-family homes within 0.1 miles of a dispensary saw gains of 8.4 percent relative to houses located between 0.1 and 0.25 miles away. (Quote from The Cannifornian.)

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And in Washington DC:

“This legislation will end this destructive war on drugs. Here on the first day, we have 12 co-signers, which is really remarkable.”

– US Rep. Barbara Lee, introducing the House version of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would end federal cannabis prohibition and help correct decades of injustice surrounding the discriminatory enforcement of marijuana criminalization laws in the United States

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To bring things full circle,  let’s close with another noteworthy snapshot from the streets of Canada:

The Cannabis Connoisseur’s Guide to the Ultimate Weekend in Aspen

Shop

Performance Ski knows their slope style stuff. Here’s you’ll find dreamworthy (and pricey) designer skiwear plus the best of the best in equipment. For a super splurge, grab an Elder Statesman or Made on Grand cashmere sweater embroidered with a pot leaf.

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Only at The Thrift Shop of Aspen will you find like-new discarded designer duds and wares up for thrifting. Proceeds from all sales at this volunteer-run treasure trove benefit the area’s non-profits. Go early, there’s usually a line outside before they open at 10 a.m.

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If you forgot it, Carl’s Pharmacy has it. Much more than a place to fill the Rx’s, it’s also a liquor/convenience/general store where you can head upstairs for “everything you didn’t know you needed” like kitschy souvenirs, housewares, games, toys, sporting goods, and crafting supplies.

More interested in an independent bookstore in a quaint Victorian house? In Aspen, it does still exist at Explore Booksellers, a fantastic place to browse while high. And Ute Mountaineer is the best place to gear up for any of the outdoor adventures you choose to pursue.

Do

(Courtesy of Matt Power)

The Belly Up is Aspen’s best hangout for live music in one of the coolest, intimate venues in the country. The highlight of this season’s concert calendar? LCD Soundsystem, which headlines two nights over X Games weekend.

Get high and take a stroll through the Aspen Art Museum, which presents innovative exhibitions from the international contemporary art scene with admission free of charge. Afterwards, get a green matcha latte at the art museum’s rooftop SO Café, where you take in epic views of Aspen Mountain for as long as you like.

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Find the most epic of session spots on-mountain in the shrines of Aspen Snowmass. Hidden in the trees across all four mountains are sanctuaries in the snow that pay homage to the likes of Jerry Garcia (Aspen Mountain), David Bowie (Aspen Mountain), The Beatles (Aspen Mountain), Hunter S. Thompson (Snowmass), John Denver (Buttermilk), and many more with memorabilia. If you can’t find one on your own, ask a friendly local on the ride up.

If you’re skiing Snowmass for the day, take a ride on the new Breathtaker Coaster between runs (separate ticket required, $49)—a thrilling three-minute ride with speeds up to 28 miles per hour that you can do in your ski boots.

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Additional image credits:

Header: Courtesy of Chamber Resort Association

Flood image 1: Courtesy of Jeremy Swanson

Flood image 2: Courtesy of Woody Creek Tavern

Flood image 3: Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass Shrines

Bud on a Budget: What $20, $50 and $100 Buy at an Iconic Denver Dispensary

Our Bud on a Budget saga continues as we move east out of Seattle and over to Denver, Colorado. Since leading the way for recreational cannabis in 2014, Denver has become home to a myriad of dispensaries, each offering a unique experience with cannabis. From eclectic menus with wide selections to bargain centers giving massive discounts, getting the best budyou’re your buck depends on the experience you are looking to have. In general though, traveling to the heart of the city will yield the most fruitful results, so I decided to take my business to one of Denver’s most iconic boutique adult-use cannabis stores, Botanico. During the visit, I built a cumulative haul of $20, $50, and finally $100 worth of Colorado cannabis.

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Taxes in the state of Colorado vary by location. For Botanico in downtown Denver, the taxes on my receipt included a 10% State Cannabis Retail Tax and an additional 3.5% Denver Retail Marijuana tax, as well as a 3.65% Denver Municipal Sales tax. Unlike in some places, where prices advertised already include sales tax, my product price points were calculated before tax, with my subtotal pre-tax coming in at $95 and the post tax purchase totaling $115.74, a little over my $100 goal. If you’re set on truly coming in under $100 total, let your budtender know ahead of time and they’ll help you leave room for taxes that’ll be tacked on at the register.

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How Much Cannabis Will $20 Buy in Denver?

Bud on a Budget: How Much <strong><a href=Marijuana $100 Buys in Denver | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />Two edibles and a pre-rolled cone ring in right at $20 at a boutique dispensary in Denver. (Patrick Bennett and Amy Phung/Leafly)

I wanted to maximize my value at the $20 price point by including as much product as possible. At Botanico, a great deal for those who want an inexpensive gram is to pick up a shake-filled pre-rolled joint (if you balk at the idea of shake, read our take on the matter before writing it off). I capitalized on this bargain, allowing me to add in two more single-serving (10mg) edibles to complete my $20 purchase.

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What I got:

Cumulative total (pre-tax): $20

Why I bought it:

Afghani Pre-Rolled Cone | I opted for a pre-roll because this was a great way to get an inexpensive gram while building a lower-priced haul. It’s tough to beat $5 for a gram in Denver, shake or not. When dealing with pre-rolls, one of the cons is that strain options are limited, so I chose Afghani as their indica-leaning choice.

KEEF Cola: Orange Kush | This single-dose (10mg) carbonated beverage from KEEF brands came in at a great deal for only $7. Contrary to some single-dose edibles, this drink provided a full 12oz serving. This makes it easy to enjoy a standard beverage without having to dose as some beverages mandate, and also provides more sustenance than a bite-sized treat.

Canyon Cultivation Caramel Apple Sucker | I rounded out this order with a 1:1 ratio edible, giving me equal parts THC to CBD. This handcrafted lollipop from Canyon Cultivation was the perfect-sized treat, packaged for easy access on the go. The combination of THC and CBD made for a more relaxing onset while ensuring a functional high.

How Much Cannabis Will $50 Buy in Denver?

Bud on a Budget: How Much <strong><a href=Marijuana $100 Buys in Denver | Leafly" width="840" height="525" />At the next price point, we tacked on a bargain package of three brownie bites, a gram of Pre-98 Bubba Kush, and a tasty $9 tincture for a cumulative total of $47. (Patrick Bennett and Amy Phung/Leafly)

Building up to a $50 haul really opened the door for me to dive into some more nuanced products. I still wanted to add a bit more flower into the mix so this was the perfect opportunity to sneak in a gram of something special, Pre-98 Bubba Kush. With flower taken care of for the rest of the haul, I set my sights on some super-discounted goodies including a THC tincture and a baked edible to round my total out.

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What I got:

Cumulative total (pre-tax): $47

Why I bought it:

Pre-98 Bubba Kush | Since I frequent Botanico at every chance I get, I was already well aware of the high quality standards that this store has established with their flower. Thanks to browsing their menu, I knew before I walked in that the Pre-98 Bubba Kush would be at the top of my list. This old school indica strain is a treat for anyone with a seasoned palate looking for that nostalgic musky flavor associated with Bubba genetics.

Sweet Grass Kitchen Brownie Bites | There is nothing more valuable to a budget haul than a deal or discount to stretch your dollar just a little bit further. These Sweet Grass Kitchen brownies were only $8 for three 10mg bites. Typically I tend to steer clear of baked goods, but I will always make an exception for a Sweet Grass product: They’ve taken home several awards since their inception, and their quality standards are the best, bar none. Everything made in their kitchen is made in small batches and crafted with full flower cannabutter. This delicacy was one of the first to go after I got home!

Dixie Ginger Mango Dew Drops | Speaking of discounts, my tincture from Dixie may have been the best deal of the bunch. For $9 I was able to grab a 100mg tincture, capping my $50 haul in bargain infamy. The packaging on this product stood out over everything else with a vibrant schematic filled with yellows and oranges. Dixie has a reputation for making some seriously awesome products, though I hadn’t previously tried anything outside of their signature line of Elixirs beverages, after a taste of the tincture I was sold. My experience with these Dew Drops fundamentally changed the way I viewed tinctures.

How Much Cannabis Will $100 Buy?

Bud on a Budget: How Much Marijuana $100 Buys in Denver | LeaflyTwo more edibles, a gram of shatter, and a $2 child safety exit bag (not pictured) to carry it all brought us to a cumulative pre-tax total of $95 at Botanico in Denver. (Patrick Bennett and Amy Phung/Leafly)

Overall, variety is what I was looking for on a $100 shopping spree. My goal was to build the most eclectic haul possible, and I was able to accomplish that, carrying away a total of 10 unique items for $95 pre-tax ($115.74 post-tax).

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What I got:

Cumulative total (pre-tax): $95

Why I bought it:

Coda Signature Hot Chocolate | Infused or not, you have to admit that instant hot chocolate on a spoon is the very first thing you want in the middle of a cold Colorado evening—which is why I was absolutely over the moon to discover that Coda had come out with a 10mg THC single serving of this 100% pure milk hot chocolate on a spoon. Famous for their signature gourmet truffles, Coda has outdone themselves with this product, creating a smooth and delicious warm treat for the season.

Bear Dance Shatter | Cannabis concentrates tend to sell at higher price points, which is why I decided to wait for the $100 haul to sneak something in. Fortunately for me, I was met with Botanico’s holiday special on shatter and couldn’t resist a $16 full gram of Bear Dance. This crazy strain crosses Snowcap, Uzbekistan Hash Plant, and Pure Kush to create a creamy, lemon-heavy 50/50 hybrid that offers a cerebral and uplifting experience.

Blue Kudu Sky Island Chocolate | Two elements stood out about this product to me. First, as stated earlier, I am a big fan of 1:1 CBD:THC edibles as they tend to create a much more relaxing and robust full-body experience, and second, Blue Kudu is arguably my favorite brand in Colorado infused chocolates, by virtue of their insanely creative flavor pairings. The Sky Island version featured salted pistachios and white chocolate, wrapped in a beautifully illustrated package. As the most expensive product in my haul, this one also contained the most cannabinoids—200mg total between the CBD and THC.

Child Safety Exit Bag | I forgot to bring in my own Botanico child safety exit bag during this trip, so I was required to purchase one for $2 before I could leave with my haul. A small price to pay for having spent $100, though this could set you back a bit if you are working with only $20 or $50. The bright side? These bags are reusable at Botanico and actually make for a pretty solid transport bag for product. Would I have rather thrown that $2 towards an extra pre-roll? Sure, but you have to play by the rules, and this one’s a smart measure that isn’t going away any time soon.

Bud on a Budget: How Much Marijuana $100 Buys in Denver | LeaflyBotanico’s $2 child safety exit bags are a required purchase if you forget to bring your own, but can be reused the next time you come back. (Patrick Bennett/Leafly)

Final notes: Botanico does a great job of offering a wide variety of products at differing price points, which allowed to me get creative when making my decisions. Combined with a few discounts and deals, I was able to grab up as much as possible without having to spend (much) more than I intended. A few tips for modifying your order if you’re looking to hit that $100 on the dot:

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  • Always check for deals first.
  • Ask your budtender to give you an itemized post-tax total when building your haul.
  • Purchase in small quantities.
  • Bring in your own child safety exit bag.

Here’s Where US Attorneys Stand on Cannabis Enforcement

Don’t expect Jeff Sessions’ undoing of the Cole memo to unleash a nationwide crackdown. By rescinding Justice Department guidelines that encouraged federal prosecutors to take a hands-off approach in legal states, the attorney general isn’t so much dropping bombs as he is encouraging his lieutenants to fire at will. It will be up to individual US attorneys to pull the trigger.

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In other words, a crackdown on state-legal cannabis, if it comes, will likely happen unevenly. District by district, US attorneys will decide for themselves how to enforce federal cannabis law—or whether to enforce it at all. This is exactly what we saw in California during the last major federal crackdown, in 2011 and 2012. US attorneys in some parts of the state tried to close every dispensary in their districts, while others allowed shops to operate unimpeded.

US attorneys are playing their cards very close to their chests.

In this new normal, it’s crucial to understand not just Sessions’ views, but also where each US attorney stands on cannabis. To that end, we’re tracking how US attorneys in legal states have responded to the removal of the Cole memo—and how likely they are to take action.

You’ll notice a common theme as you read through this piece: US attorneys are playing their cards very close to their chests. Most have issued murky statements that can be interpreted in a number of ways. We’ve done our best to parse the available information and add to those statements to get a better sense of the risk of prosecution in that district.

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Initially we’ll be looking at states that have legalized adult-use cannabis. This page will be updated to include more information about US attorneys in medical-only states.

Each state has at least one federal district. A US attorney acts as the chief federal prosecutor for his or her district. (Courtesy of the US Department of Justice)

Alaska

US Attorney Brian D. Schroder, a Trump appointee whom the Senate confirmed in November, isn’t giving us much to go on. He said in a statement shortly after Sessions’ announcement that his office would continue using “long-established principles” in deciding which cases to charge. He added that violent crime, including that which stems from drug crimes, has been a top priority. His office has declined to comment further.

Schroder’s statement—like his record on cannabis—is awfully thin. Aside from any violent incidents in the state system, which would almost certainly draw his attention, it’s not yet clear what action, if any, his office might take.

Prosecution Risk: UNKNOWN

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California

Central District (Los Angeles)

Interim US Attorney Nicola T. Hanna took his post last week, when Sessions appointed him and 16 others as interim US attorneys. So far both Hanna and his predecessor, Sandra Brown, have been mum on enforcement, which could be an ominous sign if the office weren’t in the midst of a transition. As it is, it doesn’t tell us much.

It’s worth noting that Hanna was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and San Diego during the 1990s, when the war on drugs was in full swing. He then left the office for private practice, taking a position at the international firm Gibson Dunn. He hasn’t said much on cannabis, but in the 2016 presidential election, records show he gave $2,700 to the campaign of Chris Christie—a notorious anti-cannabis crusader.

Complicating it all, Hanna’s gig is only temporary. As an interim US attorney, he can serve for 120 days until President Trump must appoint someone and seek Senate confirmation.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Eastern District (Sacramento)

US Attorney Scott W. McGregor, a Trump appointee currently awaiting Senate confirmation, already held the position under President George W. Bush. While in office, he targeted large-scale cannabis operations and developed a reputation for seeking harsh sentences. As the Sacramento Bee reports, at the time he asked local authorities to refer cannabis cases to federal prosecutors. He also went after a pair of dispensary operators who were convicted in 2008 and each sentenced to 20 or more years in prison. (President Barack Obama granted one of the two men clemency in 2017. The other is still behind bars.)

Following Sessions’ memo, McGregor spokesperson Lauren Horwood said the office would evaluate possible enforcement actions “in accordance with our district’s federal law enforcement priorities and resources.” That’s pretty standard boilerplate and doesn’t tell us much, but McGregor’s enforcement history suggests he wouldn’t be shy about going after cannabis businesses if he feels they’re too far out of line.

“He used to be a hardcore, anti-cannabis drug warrior,” Sebastopol lawyer Omar Figueroa told the Sacramento Bee. “I hope he has evolved.”

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Northern District (San Francisco)

Acting US Attorney Alex G. Tse took over for former US Attorney Brian Stretch, who announced through a spokesperson on Jan. 4 that he would be leaving the post. It was the same day Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, though Stretch said the announcement was not the reason for his departure.

Despite their San Francisco office location, Northern District prosecutors have a reputation for interfering with California’s legal-cannabis system even when local officials push back. The office famously undertook—and famously lost—a multiyear case against Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, perhaps the state’s best-known dispensary.

Tse, for his part, spent most of the 2011-12 federal crackdown in California working in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. The experience likely gave him an understanding of the close working relationship between federal and local authorities—something that might give him pause before bringing cases against locally approved, state-licensed businesses.

Prosecution Risk: LOW

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Southern District (San Diego)

Interim US Attorney Adam L. Braverman was appointed by Jeff Sessions in November, though he’s been a federal prosecutor in the Southern District since 2008. His focus was large, international drug-trafficking cartels, and after being sworn in as US attorney last year, he said he wanted to prioritize “those crimes committed by transnational criminal organizations.”

On its face, that seems just fine. State-legal cannabis has shrunk the illegal market in the United States, and Braverman may rightly see prosecuting licensed businesses as a surefire way to reinvigorate cartels. But sometimes when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

More worrisome is Braverman’s statement following the Sessions memo: “The Department of Justice is committed to reducing violent crime and enforcing the laws as enacted by Congress. The cultivation, distribution, and possession of marijuana has long been and remains a violation of federal law,” he said. “We will continue to utilize long-established prosecutorial priorities to carry out our mission to combat violent crime, disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations, and stem the rising tide of the drug crisis.”

If Braverman does his homework, he’ll see that legalization tends to accomplish those priorities. But if he views legal cannabis as part of the problem, watch out.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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 Colorado

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Robert C. Troyer became an acting US attorney in 2016 and was appointed interim US attorney by Jeff Sessions in November. Asked by the Denver Post about the Sessions memo, Troyer’s office provided this response:

Here is the question we ask every time we consider allocating our finite resources to prosecute any of the vast number of federal crimes we can prosecute, from violent crime to immigration crime to opioid crime: Will this prosecution make Colorado safer? … Under the attorney general’s new memo, we have more freedom and flexibility to make decisions that make Colorado safer by prosecuting individuals and organizations for marijuana crimes that significantly threaten our community safety.

US attorneys often point to their own district’s unique needs when explaining their enforcement priorities, so this doesn’t tell us much—although it does suggest Troyer could take action in response to local officials who believe legal cannabis is a threat to public safety, as has happened in past crackdowns.

For now, Troyer said he would “continue to take” the approach his office has been using—suggesting not much will change in the short term. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman told the Post that she had asked Troyer to “please notify me … if there is going to be any change in those priorities or in those actions so that we have a heads-up. And I have his agreement that he will do that.”​ In the meantime, she said, “I would encourage people not to freak out.”

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Maine

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Halsey B. Frank, a Trump nominee, was confirmed by the Senate in October. To his credit, he’s issued a lengthy statement on the Sessions move. Unfortunately, like most other US attorney statements so far, it doesn’t offer much in the way of clarity. “My job is to enforce federal law, not countermand it,” Frank said. “I do not have the authority to categorically declare that my office will not prosecute a class of crime or persons.”

Unlike some other US attorneys, Frank has spoken out publicly against legalized cannabis in the past. In a 2013 column in The Forecaster newspaper (published after the Cole memo), he wrote that when “there is a conflict between state and federal law, federal law prevails.” Maine’s state law, which at the time allowed medical use of cannabis, “is not a defense to federal prosecution for manufacturing or distributing marijuana,” he wrote.

Lest you think he was just opining on legal procedure, he also included this veiled jab at legalization: “Society can only tolerate a certain number of intoxicated people on its streets and highways, at school, at work and at play.” (You can read his full column here.)

One bright spot, especially for individuals: Frank’s recent statement notes that his office “has prioritized the prosecution of cases involving the trafficking of opiates, cocaine, crack and similar hard drugs.” Prosecuting individuals for possession, he said, “has not been a priority.”

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Massachusetts

US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, a Trump nominee, was confirmed by the Senate in December. In response to the Sessions memo, he issued a statement saying he could not “provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution.”

This is a straightforward rule of law issue.  Congress has unambiguously made it a federal crime to cultivate, distribute and/or possess marijuana.  As a law enforcement officer in the Executive Branch, it is my sworn responsibility to enforce that law, guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution.  To do that, however, I must proceed on a case-by-case basis, assessing each matter according to those principles and deciding whether to use limited federal resources to pursue it.

This has the noncommittal air of some other US attorneys’ statements, but the tone is comparatively harsh. While it doesn’t signal a categorical crackdown on cannabis businesses, it certainly suggests the office could bring targeted actions against certain state-legal actors.

More worrisome is the relative lack of local pushback to Sessions rescinding the Cole memo. While officials in many other legal states have decried the move, Massachusetts elected officials, many of whom opposed the 2016 ballot question that legalized cannabis, have been relatively quiet.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM/HIGH

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Nevada

Interim US Attorney Dayle Elieson was one of 17 interim US attorneys appointed by Sessions last week. Before the appointment, she was an assistant US attorney in Texas, where she focused on fraud, money laundering, and terrorism. As a new arrival to Nevada, she’s a relatively unknown quantity, and Nevada officials are eagerly awaiting further guidance from the office.

“I know that the US attorney in Colorado has already said that he is not going to enforce federal laws against the legalized marijuana industry in that state,” Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I would like to see something similar here in Nevada, but that’s a discussion that needs to be had.” (It’s worth noting that Sandoval may be overstating assurances by Colorado US Attorney Robert C. Troyer; see the Massachusetts section of this story, above.)

Nevada’s legal cannabis program has strong support from state and local officials, which could help dissuade Elieson from taking a hardline stance legal against legal cannabis while still new to the office. Federal prosecutors tend to work closely with local law enforcement and other partners, and targeting cannabis could risk hurting those relationships.

As an interim US attorney, Elieson’s post is only temporary. She’ll be able to serve for 120 days before Trump must nominate someone for the position and seek Senate confirmation.

Prosecution Risk: UNKNOWN

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Oregon

(Courtesy of DOJ)

US Attorney Billy J. Williams, who became an acting US attorney in 2015 and was nominated by Trump in November to remain in the post, has already expressed concerns with the state’s cannabis regulatory system. In an interview with the Associated Press last year, he complained about what he said was insufficient enforcement by the state to prevent cannabis from being illegally exported to states where it’s not legal. Stopping diversion to other states was a key piece of the now-rescinded Cole memo.

Following Sessions’ move last week, Williams put out the following statement:

As noted by Attorney General Sessions, today’s memo on marijuana enforcement directs all U.S. Attorneys to use the reasoned exercise of discretion when pursuing prosecutions related to marijuana crimes. We will continue working with our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to pursue shared public safety objectives, with an emphasis on stemming the overproduction of marijuana and the diversion of marijuana out of state, dismantling criminal organizations and thwarting violent crime in our communities.

It sounds like Williams might be OK with Oregon’s cannabis program when it works, but failures—including things like diversion, violence, or illegal sales to minors—could prompt him to take action. So he’s presumably not too pleased with reports like one issued this week by Oregon cannabis regulators that found a number of stores around the state that reportedly sold cannabis to minors.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Washington, DC

US Attorney Jessie K. Liu, a Trump nominee whom the Senate confirmed in September, has said through a spokesperson that the office is “committed to reducing violent crime and dismantling criminal gangs and large-scale drug distribution networks that pose a threat to public safety.”

Washington, DC, is unusual in that it allows individuals to grow, possess, consume, and even give away cannabis but, due to pressure from federal lawmakers, forbids purchases or sales. The laws have led to the emergence of a thriving gray market in which consumers make “donations” or purchase other items and are “gifted” cannabis as part of the transaction. Liu may take a closer look at these businesses—they are, after all, operating in Jeff Sessions’ backyard—but it seems unlikely at this point that she’ll bring cases against individuals who follow the law.

Prosecution Risk: LOW/MEDIUM

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Washington State

Eastern District (Spokane)

Interim US Attorney Joseph Harrington was another of the 17 interim US attorneys appointed by Sessions last week. He’s a longtime federal prosecutor, with nearly three decades of experience handling the office’s criminal division, health care cases, and terrorism matters.

Harrington has said hardly anything about how Sessions’ move would affect his office’s cannabis enforcement. Immediately following the undoing of the Cole memo, he directed questions directly to the main Justice Department press office in Washington, DC. The Eastern District, nevertheless, has come to be seen as an aggressive enforcer by many in the state’s legal cannabis industry. The office sought criminal charges, for example, against a family of medical cannabis patients who became known as the Kettle Falls Five.

Harrington filed a motion in October to put that case on pause, noting that a federal spending provision—which had been adopted three years earlier and halted a blockbuster California case in May 2016—prevented the case from going forward. But that provision, the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, is set to expire later this month, and it only blocks prosecutions against medical operations. Currently nothing stands in the way of Harrington bringing cases against the state’s many adult-use businesses.

Prosecution Risk: MEDIUM

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Western District (Seattle)

US Attorney Annette L. Hayes, who became acting US attorney in 2014 after her predecessor resigned, remained in the position after President Barack Obama declined to make an appointment. On the day Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, she issued this statement:

Today the Attorney General reiterated his confidence in the basic principles that guide the discretion of all U.S. Attorneys around the country, and directed that those principles shepherd enforcement of federal law regarding marijuana.  He also emphasized his belief that U.S. Attorneys are in the best position to address public safety in their districts, and address the crime control problems that are pressing in their communities.  Those principles have always been at the core of what the United States Attorney’s Office for Western Washington has done – across all threats to public safety, including those relating to marijuana.  As a result, we have investigated and prosecuted over many years cases involving organized crime, violent and gun threats, and financial crimes related to marijuana.  We will continue to do so to ensure – consistent with the most recent guidance from the Department – that our enforcement efforts with our federal, state, local and tribal partners focus on those who pose the greatest safety risk to the people and communities we serve.

This may be the most supportive statement of state-legal cannabis to come out of a US attorney’s office in the wake of Sessions’ announcement. Read between the lines. Hayes’ almost cheeky use of “reiterated” suggests little or nothing has changed in her eyes. Rather than read Sessions’ move as a sign the attorney general wants to see more cannabis cases—which, given Sessions’ views on cannabis, it almost certainly was—Hayes’ comments interpret the memo as an endorsement of local discretion. “Thanks for trusting us to do a good job,” the statement seems to say. It’s likely that wasn’t by accident.

Prosecution Risk: LOW

RELATED STORY

Washington State Vows to Defend Cannabis From Federal Crackdown

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Colorado Delegation Moves Quickly to Stop Sessions’ War on Cannabis

Political representatives from Colorado are leading the vanguard of Congressional resistance to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement last week that he is rescinding the Justice Department’s Cole memorandum.

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is leading the charge. He’s expected to meet with Jeff Sessions today.

That 2013 document from the Obama-era Justice Department established a federal policy of non-interference in cannabis-legal states, and created a political environment that allowed the marijuana legalization movement to spread across the United States.

While senators and representatives from California, Washington, and other legal states have expressed outrage over Sessions’ move, Colorado’s Congressional delegation has combined words with actual deeds.

On Wednesday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardiner, a Republican, is expected to meet with Sessions. Last week Gardner tweeted that Sessions’ announcement “directly contradicts” what Sessions told Gardner before Sessions was confirmed as attorney general.

“With no prior notice to Congress,” Gardner added, “the Justice Department has trampled on the will of the voters in CO and other states.”

And in a strongly-worded speech on the Senate floor, Gardner – who originally opposed the legalization of cannabis in his state – said he would block Justice Department nominees until Sessions “lives up to the commitment he made to me prior to his confirmation.”

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On Tuesday, members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation sent a bipartisan letter to the attorney general, calling on him to reinstate the Cole memo “in order to ensure the Department is acting to uphold the will of Colorado voters and the rights of the states to regulate intrastate commerce.”

Pioneering, Politically Purple State

While lawmakers in other cannabis-legal states have condemned Sessions’ announcement, observers say it makes sense that politicians from Colorado, one of the first states to completely legalize adult cannabis use and a state known for its political diversity, would take the lead on this issue.

‘Gardner, who is not a left-wing kook, is clearly furious with what the Justice Department is doing.’

Sam Kamin, University of Denver law professor

“You’ve seen, since the announcement last week, real pushback from people across the political spectrum,” said Sam Kamin, Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy at the University of Denver and in 2013 a member of Colorado’s task force to implement cannabis legalization.

“Cory Gardner, who’s certainly not a left-wing kook, says that Sessions lied to his face, and (he) is clearly furious with what the Justice Department is doing,” Kamin noted. “I think that what you see here is both frustration with this policy and legislators trying to take some of that power from the executive back to the Congress.”

Kamin said he found the timing of Sessions’ announcement strange, especially since it came just days after California opened its first legal and state-licensed recreational cannabis stores. “He probably would have gotten more bang for his buck if he had done it prior to that,” Kamin noted.

RELATED STORY

FAQ: What We Know About Jeff Sessions’ DOJ Action Against Legal Cannabis

Chaos in California?

The rescinding of the Cole memo has also created more confusion and uncertainty for cannabis-friendly states, as cannabis consumers and businesses in legal states are now less protected from the whims of U.S. Attorneys across the country. As the Associated Press pointed out, Session’s actions have “left the issue to a mix of prosecutors who were appointed by President Donald Trump’s administration and others who are holdovers from the Barack Obama years.”

And that, according to Kamin, can be a recipe for legal chaos. “California has four different U.S. Attorneys, one in each quadrant of the state,” he said, “and they could develop different (cannabis) policies in the four different parts of California.”

But there is hope that Sessions’ action will light a fire under efforts by the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan group of pro-legalization lawmakers established last year.

RELATED STORY

Cole Memo Wakeup: Cannabis Industry Must Rejoin the Federal Fight

Watch the Cannabis Caucus Membership

For his part, Kamin said he’s curious to see if the caucus gains more members in the wake of the attorney general’s actions.

Another issue to watch takes place next week. That’s when the Rohrabacher–Blumenauer amendment, a budgetary measure prohibiting  the use of federal funds to arrest or prosecute people who abide by state regulations in states that have legalized medical marijuana, is scheduled to expire.

There are currently at least four marijuana-related bills awaiting Congressional representatives as they return from the holiday recess. Last week Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat and co-sponsor of several of those bills, said it was time for Congress to take matters into its own hands when it comes to protecting the legal marijuana industry.

“We’ve come too far to backtrack on this issue now,” Perlmutter said in a press statement. “It’s time to find a real solution that will keep our communities safe and respect the will of voters in the majority of states in our country.”

RELATED STORY

A Top Cannabis Lawyer on What Losing the Cole Memo Means

Colorado Officials Say: Stop Freaking, We Ain’t Retreating

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s top federal prosecutor said his office won’t alter its approach to enforcing marijuana crimes after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew a policy Thursday that allowed cannabis markets to emerge in states that legalized the drug.

The statement by U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer came amid bipartisan outrage over Sessions’ decision to end the Cole memorandum, which sharply limited what charges prosecutors could pursue in legal pot states. He will allow federal prosecutors to decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law banning cannabis.

‘Why does Jeff Sessions think President Trump was wrong?’

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

Colorado was the first state in the nation to sell recreational cannabis legally after voters in 2012 approved it. The state has also has a longstanding medical marijuana industry and Colorado’s annual marijuana sales are more than $1 billion.

Troyer said his office will continue to focus on “identifying and prosecuting those who create the greatest safety threats to our communities around the state.” That approach is consistent with Sessions’ guidance, he said.

“Today the Attorney General rescinded the Cole memo on marijuana prosecutions, and directed that federal marijuana prosecution decisions be governed by the same principles that have long governed all of our prosecution decisions,” Troyer said.

RELATED STORY

Sessions Rescinds Cole Memo, Which Protected State-Legal Cannabis From Feds

Local US Attorney: Le Freak, Non C’est Chic

The U.S. attorney for Colorado took office in August 2016 after former President Barack Obama’s appointee stepped down. President Donald Trump hasn’t nominated a replacement.

Colorado’s Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, said she was reassured by Troyer’s statement and told reporters that Colorado residents should not “freak out.”

Coffman, a Republican, said she believes nothing will change regarding federal enforcement of marijuana in the state.

She said her office would fight back if U.S. prosecutors go after people Colorado has permitted to sell cannabis and are following the state’s regulations. Marijuana businesses could also argue that the U.S. government created expectations of stable policy and cannot just reverse them with no warning.

Gov. Hickenlooper: Sessions Is All Talk

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, also urged calm: “I think it will be the case where the bark is going to be worse than the bite.”

Sessions’ move infuriated Colorado elected officials of both parties. Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said he’s placing a hold on Justice Department nominees and will try to push legislation to protect marijuana sales in states where they are legal.

He said Sessions promised him that he would not repeal the Obama-era policy on lenient enforcement before being confirmed as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

RELATED STORY

FAQ: What We Know About Jeff Sessions’ DOJ Action Against Legal Cannabis

“What Jeff Sessions said is he didn’t think it was on Trump’s agenda to do this, he didn’t think President Trump had the bandwidth to do this, and he had no plans to repeal the Cole memorandum,” Gardner said in an interview.

Gardner noted that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump told a Colorado television reporter that he believed marijuana should be left up to the states.

“Why does Jeff Sessions think President Trump was wrong?” he asked.

Gardner said he found out via Twitter that Sessions was changing the policy. He said he plans to reach out to other lawmakers from Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington state to seek congressional protection for cannabis programs.

Sen. Bennett: Sessions Failed to Listen

Colorado’s senior senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, also slammed Sessions’ move.

“In rescinding the Cole memo, the Attorney General failed to listen to Colorado, and will create unnecessary chaos and confusion,” he said on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado condemned the decision as an infringement on states’ rights and pledged to fight any action targeting the state’s legal market.

“Colorado had every right to legalize marijuana, and I will do everything I can to protect that right against the power of an overreaching federal government,” the Republican said in a statement.

The state’s former “marijuana czar,” Andrew Freedman, said Sessions’ only point was to create confusion but that the Justice Department cannot force states to make cannabis illegal.

RELATED STORY

Politicians Outraged: Sessions Move ‘Trampled the Will of the Voters’

Freedman, who formerly worked as Hickenlooper’s director of marijuana coordination, said the uncertainty will make law-abiding people less likely to get involved in the market and make it harder for banks and insurance companies to justify the risk of working with marijuana businesses.

“It seems like a foolish step. Certainty brings better players into the market, more legitimate capital. People who want to be law-abiding will be more likely to enter into the regulated system,” he said.

Freedman said this is a time for states to increase enforcement to ensure businesses are following the law.

“We should all make sure it’s done as safely and efficiently as possible,” he said. “It’s more of a reason to double down on efforts, not to retreat.”

RELATED STORY

The Cole Memo: What Is It and What Does It Mean?

Leafly List: The Best Cannabis Dispensaries in Colorado, Winter 2017

THE LEAFLY LIST: COLORADO

Winter 2017

The Leafly List ranks the top dispensaries and retail stores in each of the major North American cannabis markets every quarter. This region-specific version is designed to provide helpful, community-based information for cannabis consumers looking for the most relevant dispensaries in Colorado. It highlights the most talked-about locations in the state based on customer feedback metrics* and reviews of each location’s quality, service, and atmosphere. Check out the Leafly List FAQ for more information on how dispensaries are ranked.

The Leafly List is based on 100% objective customer feedback and data collected by Leafly. Businesses CANNOT pay for a spot on the list.

Trinidad, CO

Highland Health Trinidad Colorado <strong><a href=Marijuana Dispensary — Leafly List Spring 2017" width="840" height="525" />(Courtesy of Highland Health)

Highland Health packages their cannabis at the time of sale to ensure that their customers take home the freshest, highest-quality flower possible. Their commitment to helping their community of patients and customers is obvious; in fact, they’re so driven to help folks get the relief they need that they’re willing to send them to other dispensaries in the area if they aren’t able to procure specific products visitors are looking for.

Index: 92.12

What to Buy: Canyon Lands Infused Chocolate Bar from Blue Kudu

What People Are Saying:

“Hands down, the best dispensary in a 50 mile radius. They have honestly the best bud and concentrates in town plus the price is amazing! They have 2 gents by the name Teddy & Lucas, between them two they’ll definitely take care of you. I’d recommend this place to anyone passing through Trinidad” —MoJo915

2119 Larimer Street Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Ballpark)(Courtesy of Ballpark Holistic)

Ballpark Holistic Dispensary is located in the heart of downtown Denver, just two blocks from Coors Field. It caters to a wide variety of holistic needs and serves both medical and recreational consumers, offering an expansive menu and free parking across the street. Visit its Leafly menu to pre-order your favorite strains.

Index: 88.8

What to Buy: Live Nectar from Harmony Extracts

What People Are Saying:

“Absolutely amazing!!! Super helpful and they know what they’re talking about! very organized as well. Jessica was the best and most informative budtender I’ve ever met in any dispensary. I would definitely ask for her for help.” —alaetracruz

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Lightshade Dayton)

Lightshade’s Dayton location offers many of the same high-quality cannabis products associated with Lightshade’s other Denver-area locations, along with its own unique take on a passionate, professional team of helpful staff. Leafly reviewers appreciate their daily deals, convenient location, and large selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and more.

Index: 87.2

What to Buy: CBD Muscle Freeze from Mary’s Medicinals

What People Are Saying:

“A wonderful experience from start to finish! Great products and the staff could not possibly be more knowledgeable or friendly! Lightshade is everything you could possibly hope for and more!” —RSCHMIDTMAN23

745 East 6th Ave Denver, CO

Lightshade - 6th Avenue <strong><a href=medical marijuana and recreational cannabis dispensary in Denver, Colorado" width="880" height="660" />(Courtesy of Lightshade – 6th Avenue)

Established in 2011, Lightshade is known for its high-end genetics and potent cannabis. Among four locations, the 6th Avenue store stands out for offering a wide selection of product and outstanding service.

Index: 87.16

What People Are Saying:

“Came for the deals, came back for the bud, kept coming back for the large variety of selection. Also, definitely one of the most convenient parking setups in downtown Denver.” —intolprog

Colorado Springs, CO

(Courtesy of Rocky Road Remedies)

At their original location, Rocky Road Remedies serves up high-quality medical cannabis to the fine people of Colorado Springs. Patients love the team of sincere staff at Rocky Road Remedies, who each go out of their way to listen so that they can make thoughtful, tailored product recommendations.

Index: 86.24

What People Are Saying:

“In all the dispensaries in Colorado, I put my life in the hands of the most loving staff and the best products in Rocky Road Remedies Original. Their concentrates in particular are absolutely incredible.” —GreenSchmo

4735 W. 38th Ave Denver, CO

The Joint <strong>Marijuana</strong> Dispensary Denver Colorado November Leafly List(Courtesy of The Joint)

The Joint serves medical and recreational cannabis consumers alike from its location on West 38th Avenue near downtown Denver. Its signature strain offering, Voodoo, is always on the menu, and keeps patrons coming back for more.

Index: 86.04

What People Are Saying:

“This place has everything you need to get your mind and body going on your visit to Denver, located in a convenient area of the city with many places to eat or drink around, and has some of the best deals on the finest quality product. Be sure to check it out!” —MerlynC

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Diego Pellicer Denver)(Courtesy of Diego Pellicer Denver)

Customers are blown away by Diego Pellicer’s unique and well-appointed layout, which feels more like an art gallery or trendy restaurant than a dispensary. While the ambiance is swanky, the budtenders at this beautiful storefront couldn’t be more down-to-earth: They’re always willing to take the time to answer questions to help customers find the perfect strain.

Index: 85.16

What People Are Saying:

“We found Diego Pellicer to be one of the most well stocked and informative dispensaries. The top quality product and little found “gems” of hard to find items has made it a regular stop. Carly was knowledgeable and friendly while taking the time to answer all the questions we had. The atmosphere is of a high class shopping experience with your own personal shopper. I love that the art changes bimonthly.” —Urthat1chick

Aurora, CO

(Courtesy of Altitude East)(Courtesy of Altitude East Colfax)

Altitude’s ‘Frequent Flower Miles’ loyalty program offers special perks for members like double-points days and exclusive email offers as well as points for every dollar spent. While the rewards are nice, Leafly reviewers are most excited about Altitude’s friendly staff and wide selection of quality products.

Index: 85.04

What People Are Saying:

“Amazing people, bud and prices. Plus some of the best budtenders around. Super helpful and always remember reoccurring customers.” —LaurenAsh93

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of House of Dankness)

House of Dankness’s bright and clean, black and white interior is thoughtfully designed to easily cater to both med and rec consumers, but their commitment to serving everyone goes beyond interior design: This Denver dispensary offers a loyalty program as well as medical membership, allowing medical and adult-use regulars to earn points, prizes, and free cannabis.

Index: 84.8

What People Are Saying:

“I just have to rate this place again, because I literally love this place… like Disney land it makes me super happy every time and the staff is super knowledgeable and friendly. I just joined as med member and was the best decision I made choosing them as my caretakers for mmj. Thanks guys! Check out LeeRoy, Venom, Commerce, Tangerine Kush has the most amazing flavor as well as purple swish!! Thanks over and over again Scott!!!!” —Smokinsince95

900 N College Ave Fort Collins, CO

(Courtesy of Infinite Wellness Center)(Courtesy of Infinite Wellness Center)

Infinite Wellness Center stands on three pillars: offering the best products, with the best prices, and all with the best service. Its professional environment is matched by its competitive pricing that offers affordable options for consumers of every income level.

Index: 84.4

What People Are Saying:

“I would like to thank all of the Bud Tenders that have assisted me on my visits. Knowledgeable and answered all my questions. Price wise for me is good, i recently relocated from, St Louis and it nice to able to purchase quality products, for a fraction of the price. It also an honor for each time I have been to the Store have the bud Bud Tenders, thank me for My Service as a disabled Veteran.” —roguemedic

Parachute, CO

(Courtesy of The Green Joint)

This cute shop is located just 30 minutes from Grand Junction and is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The Green Joint’s team of helpful staff are great at recommending strains based on preference, intended activity, and tolerance level, and customers love their generous daily deals.

Index: 83.96

What People Are Saying:

“Stepping inside one might think they’ve found Valhalla. Alas, Odin is on vacation​ and Thor can’t find his hammer. But fear not weary traveler! Search out John and bask in the glory of his abundant knowledge. With his guiding hand, find your succor here.” —vintagepimpage

Denver, CO

GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique Colorado Marijuana Dispensary — Leafly List Spring 2017(Courtesy of GroundSwell Cannabis Boutique)

Located conveniently in the Bluebird district of Denver, GroundSwell is popular among medical and adult-use patients alike. Their state-of-the-art rewards program allows members to skip the line by preordering their favorite strains and products, as well as earn points for each purchase that can be redeemed for awards, savings, or swag.

Index: 83.56

What People Are Saying:

“This is, hand down, my favorite spot in Denver for high-quality Cannabis, in all of its forms. The staff is extremely friendly and extensively learned not only in products but the art and science of cannabinoids as well. They do a great job curating top-notch edibles, extracts, and flower; both from in-house and elsewhere. Love the selection of high-CBD products. Can’t recommend GroundSwell enough, whether you’re a connoisseur or curious and looking for guidance. The fact that it’s in my neighborhood, and I get a sweet discount, is an added bonus! :D” —JonnyCreative

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Altitude East Denver)

Altitude’s “Frequent Flower Miles” is not only one of the best-named rewards program in town, it’s also very generous! Regulars earn points that count towards free cannabis or store credit with every purchase and receive exclusive, members-only daily offers and specials. Plus, the staff at this East Denver location are celebrated for their compassion, warmth, and cannabis savvy.

Index: 83.48

What People Are Saying:

“Altitude Denver east is amazing. Great bud tenders, excellent shatter & wax for 25 out door can’t beat for quality. Love this place my main Dispensary” —BlayRay

Denver, CO USA

(Courtesy of The Lodge Cannabis)

If The Lodge lacks anything in terms of its physical footprint, it more than makes up for its small size with its large selection of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products, as well as its team of top-notch staff, who do an exceptional job at being laid-back, professional, cheerful, and real.

Index: 83.44

What People Are Saying:

“Came in for a great deal on some live resin, and will definitely be returning to grab some of their very nice looking flower. Dispensary was clean and service was awesome.” —DaabCity

Denver, CO

(Courtesy of Sacred Seed)

Walking into Sacred Seed feels like walking into a well-appointed, comfortable living room, so it’s no wonder that the staff at this Denver dispensary treat each person who comes in like they’ve known them for years. In addition to super-friendly, knowledgeable staff, this mom and pop shop boasts an enormous selection of exclusive, high-quality strains.

Index: 83.2

What People Are Saying:

“A really cool place to start shopping for cannabis. The selection was high quality and various. The staff was very friendly and informative, and the deals were amazing. I’m going back today!” —banksweiser

Trinidad, CO

(Courtesy of Rooted in Trinidad)

Rooted in Trinidad takes customer service seriously and it shows. Leafly reviewers go out of their way to talk about the amazing service, staff, selection, and deals at this Southern Colorado dispensary, which is cherished for its high-end products without high-end price tags.

Index: 82.76+

What People Are Saying:

“A friend took me to Rooted with him. I love this shop. The people are great. They know their products and are always willing to show you something. The products are great and the prices are some of the best in town. The Service, Selection and price point has made a regular out of me.” —lilburashka

Denver, CO

(Google Maps)

Located in the RiNo district in the heart of Denver, this laid-back dispensary keeps their flower in big glass jars so customers know exactly what they’re buying. Leafly reviewers use words like “amazing,” “funny,” and “awesome” when describing the staff at Sticky Fingers, who are known for making tailored recommendations to everyone who stops by.

Index: 82.76+

What People Are Saying:

“I come in from out of state pretty regularly and visit a lot of Rec. dispensaries. I come for the flower and the two things I care about are quality and price. The bud quality here is ABOVE and BEYOND. The prices include tax so there are no surprises. The buds they have are in huge display jars so you know what you’re getting, and the three kinds I got were all amazing. The gal working was sweet, knowledgable and also funny as hell. I’ll be back again and you should visit too. 💚💚💚” —deathblow

Denver, CO USA

(UrosPoteko/iStock)

This family-owned dispensary is close to the Denver airport, making it popular among locals and tourists alike. Whether they’re from down the road or across the world, visitors to Fine Trees are blown away by the wide selection of high-quality cannabis and the welcoming team of downright hospitable staff.

Index: 81.76

What People Are Saying:

“First time here and the customer service was great! The guy was so helpful and they have great deals! Free birthday joint for my girlfriend and $2 joint for me being first time. Would for sure visit again!” —jacob421

Lafayette, CO

(Courtesy of Herbal Wellness)

Herbal Wellness caters to the medical and adult-use cannabis community of Lafayette with a sweet loyalty programs, friendly staff, and diverse array of quality cannabis products. Plus, their shop dog Moose is known to greet humans with a friendly wag.

Index: 81.64

What People Are Saying:

“The environment was over all great picked up some gelato gotta say one of the best strains I’ve had I didn’t get to get a glass jar being a first time patient thanks to Kaine for the recommendation looking forward to being at the shop more often.” —alexgomez123

Colorado Springs, CO

(HighGradeRoots/iStock)

A Wellness Centers’ laid-back vibe pairs perfectly with its large selection of flower, concentrates, edibles, and topicals. Leafly reviewers rave about the staff at this Colorado Springs dispensary, who know the regulars by name and treat everyone like family, allowing everyone to take as much time as they need to select just the right product for their needs.

Index: 81.6

What People Are Saying:

“The staff at A Wellness is by far the most friendly and compensating in the springs. They have an awesome selection of edibles, flower, concentrates and also a nice glass selection!” —ashleymccollum

Previous Colorado Leafly List

The Leafly List in Other Regions

Lead image by Adventure_Photo/iStock

Don’t see your favorite dispensary on the list? Make sure you follow, rate, and review your favorite cannabis locations to let the world know where to find the best cannabis products, service, and atmosphere.

Want to see your business on the Leafly List?

Get Listed On Leafly

*The Winter 2017 Leafly List uses customer service metrics from the three months prior to its month of publication.

**Lightshade – Havana (86), Lightshade – Holly (85.6), Lightshade – Sheridan (84.72), Lightshade – Iliff (84.68), and Lightshade – Peoria (84.48) withheld due to franchise limitations.

+Visit the Leafly List FAQ for tie-breaking procedures

Denver Shuts Down 26 Legal Cannabis Businesses, Makes Arrests

DENVER (AP) — Denver authorities shut down 26 legal marijuana businesses Thursday and arrested 12 people suspected of illegal distribution of cannabis after a yearlong criminal investigation.

Potential charges relate to marijuana sales exceeding limits set in state law, police said. Colorado allows people 21 and older to possess an ounce or less of marijuana under a measure approved by voters in 2012.

The city department that regulates marijuana businesses issued the order to close the businesses based on the police investigation, spokesman Dan Rowland said. It marked the first time the city has issued an open-ended suspension to any legal marijuana business since sales began in 2014, he said.

RELATED STORY

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Colorado has made a concerted effort to avoid a federal crackdown on its marijuana experiment, including police and government enforcement against illegal marijuana grows or sales.

Denver police didn’t name any federal agencies as partners in the investigation.

Gov. John Hickenlooper highlighted those efforts in an August letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who requested information on marijuana legalization. Sessions has been a longtime opponent of state legalization and has suggested the federal government should crack down.

Special Agent Randy Ladd, a spokesman for the Denver division of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said the agency wasn’t involved. Denver police didn’t name any federal agencies as partners in the investigation.

The city’s order shuttered 26 retail stores and other marijuana growing facilities operating under the name Sweet Leaf. But the police investigation focused on eight locations licensed by the company, and officers searched those addresses Thursday.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said he couldn’t provide more detail on the case because of the ongoing investigation. The department didn’t name the people arrested.

RELATED STORY

Cannabis States Try to Curb Smuggling, Fend off Administration

Matthew Aiken, Christian Johnson and Anthony Suaro, three co-owners listed on the city’s order, didn’t immediately respond to email messages seeking comment. Company officials told Marijuana Business Magazine in April that they had 350 employees and $60 million in revenue.

Rowland said the businesses can’t sell or produce any cannabis products while the order is in place. The city plans to hold a public hearing within 30 days.

“This is a way for us to put a hold on things so we can figure out what’s going on,” he said.

Under Colorado law, marijuana businesses must get separate licenses for various purposes, even if they operate out of the same building. For example, a retail store licensed to sell recreational pot also needs a medical marijuana retail license to sell products designated for medical use.

RELATED STORY

California Issues First Round of Cannabis Licenses

“One thing I always say about legalization is it didn’t end law enforcement,” said Sam Kamin, a University of Denver marijuana policy law professor. “If you’re going to have a system that works, people not complying with regulations need to be shut down.”

In Washington state, which also legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, no legal, regulated pot businesses have faced police raids. Some have, however, had their licenses suspended or revoked for failing to follow industry rules.

Sweet Leaf’s website lists one store in Oregon and 10 stores in Colorado. An employee who answered the phone at the Oregon store Thursday said they were open.

Oregon regulators weren’t immediately available to discuss the company’s status in that state.

Coffee Shop Wants to Be Denver’s First Legal Cannabis Club

DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s largest city is reviewing the first application from a business seeking to be among the nation’s first legal marijuana clubs, a step that comes more than a year after voters approved a bring-your-own pot measure.

Dan Rowland, a spokesman for the Denver department that regulates marijuana businesses, said the city received the application from the Coffee Joint on Friday.

Co-owners Rita Tsalyuk and Kirill Merkulov plan to charge a $5 entry fee if they’re approved for the license. Customers could use edible cannabis products or vaporizing pens inside, and the shop would sell food, host events and provide free coffee or tea, she said.

RELATED STORY

Denver to Start Licensing First Cannabis Clubs, but Few May Apply

Denver voters approved the clubs in a 2016 ballot measure, but it took nine months for the city to start accepting applications. Advocates have complained that state restrictions preventing pot use at any business with a liquor license and the city’s own rules unfairly limited potential locations for the clubs.

“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too.”

Rita Tsalyuk, Coffee Joint co-owner

For instance, the city required cannabis clubs to be twice as far from schools and anywhere else children gather as liquor stores.

Customers buying marijuana products often ask where they are allowed to legally use it, and employees have few answers for tourists staying in hotels that ban marijuana use, Tsalyuk said.

Colorado law doesn’t address cannabis clubs. In some cities, they are tolerated, while others operate secretly.

Other states with legal marijuana are at a standstill for developing rules governing places to consume pot products, including Alaska, where state regulators have delayed discussion of rules for retail shops until spring.

RELATED STORY

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It could be months before Denver residents and tourists would be allowed to legally vape or eat pot products at the Coffee Joint. The city said it has just started to review the application and a public hearing will probably be scheduled within two to three months.

In the meantime, Tsalyuk and Merkulov want to open their business before the end of the year as a traditional coffee shop. For their 1,850-square-foot space, they plan to convert a garage to a space for “vape and paint” events, open a smaller room for private events and put in comfortable furniture.

“We want to give a better name to the cannabis industry and be good for residents, too,” Tsalyuk said.

The proposal has the backing of a local neighborhood association, which submitted a letter of support to the city. Applicants have to show community support for their proposal as part of the licensing process.

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Aubrey Lavizzo, a member of the La Alma Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, said the club backers attended two of their meetings and invited members to tour the dispensary.

“They’ve shown us that they really want to be good neighbors,” said Lavizzo, a veterinarian who has had a clinic in the neighborhood for over 30 years.

Merkulov said they are aware of the national and global spotlight on the industry.

“It’s a new apex,” he said. “We hope to prove this can be managed well and be safe.”

280E Tax Reform Effort Still Alive, Senator Says

A Colorado Republican’s effort to remove a decades-old tax penalty that forces some cannabis businesses to pay effective tax rates of more than 70% fell short last week, as Sen. Cory Gardner’s proposed amendment to the Senate tax bill failed to make it into the final legislation.

Speaking to Marijuana Business Daily on Thursday, however, the Colorado Republican said he’s still pushing the amendment as the House and Senate come together to hammer out the differences between their two tax bills. With enough support, the provision could be added back into the tax plan Congress ultimately sends to President Trump.

“We, right now, continue to push it in conference committee,” Gardner told MJ Biz. “It’s an uphill climb, but we’re not giving up on it.”

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Gardner also told MJ Biz that the amendment didn’t make it into the Senate version of the tax bill because supporters didn’t receive an analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation before the full Senate voted on the bill.

Initial reports said Gardner pulled back the amendment over concern there wouldn’t be enough votes to pass the measure given its price tag. As the lawmakers were considering the tax bill, Gardner reportedly said his amendment could cost upward of $5 billion.

It’s not clear how the provision received that score from the Joint Committee on Taxation if, as Gardner told MJ Biz, supporters didn’t receive an analysis from the committee prior to their vote. Leafly’s email to his press secretary and phone messages left at the both his Denver and Washington, DC, offices were not immediately returned Friday. A message left at his DC office following last week’s passage of the Senate tax bill also went unreturned.

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IRS Section 280E, adopted in the 1980s to penalize organized crime and drug cartels, prevents federally illegal businesses from claiming standard business deductions on their tax forms. Gardner proposed amendments that would exempt state-legal cannabis businesses from the penalty.

As approved, the Senate’s tax bill is expected to cost the federal government $1.4 trillion over the next decade, due largely to significant cuts to corporate tax rates.