The majority of medical marijuana dispensary owners in Colorado have criminal records, and 18 percent were previously convicted of felonies, Drug Enforcement Administration statistics show.

The crimes the dispensary owners were arrested for include sexual assault, weapons violations and burglary. Four of the owners were previously arrested and investigated on charges of murder and attempted murder.

KUSA-TV reported the DEA’s findings Wednesday.

“This business seems to have an inappropriate number of people with criminal backgrounds involved as business owners,” said Kevin Merrill, assistant special agent in charge for the Denver field division of the DEA.

The DEA said its statistics show that 28 percent medical marijuana dispensary owners have criminal records for drug offenses, compared with 8 percent of the state’s population who were previously arrested for crimes.

“I would be hard-pressed to find any other business group where their members have so many criminal violations, arrests and convictions,” Merrill said.

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The DEA developed its statistics through public records, property records, and the names of marijuana dispensary owners. The DEA then ran background checks on the business owners.

Some of the dispensary owners with criminal records will not be able to operate their businesses after Sunday, when new state regulations go into effect barring anyone with a felony conviction or sentence in the past five years from obtaining an operating license for a dispensary.

A new Colorado law sets up the first-ever state licenses for marijuana sales, so even if a current dispensary owner has local business permits, the business could be forced to close if the owners don’t meet new requirements. Marijuana advocates say lawsuits are likely when businesses are asked to closed.

The new regulations also give cities and counties the option of banning the businesses, and some municipalities already are considering doing so.

Brian Vicente, the executive director of Sensible Colorado, a marijuana advocacy group, said the businesses owners don’t think it’s fair that they should continue to be punished for crimes when they’ve served their time for their offenses.

“A lot of people have been convicted of felonies or any crime and they have done their time, they’ve paid their debt to society and now want to move on and work in this field and aren’t able to do so.”

Associated Press


  1. Just a Chicken Shit way of closing the businesses down.. There are lots of people out there that need thses kind of places.. Maybe we need to close down the White House, there are plenty of criminals there…

  2. Our local and national government needs to focus on several key issues related to dispensaries – yet the number of approved dispensaries continues to increase. At what point does our government stop approving them and develop guidelines first?!

    First of all, there needs to be a strict process on the overall standards of the applicant and approval for these establishments. Pharmacists go to great lengths to offer ‘medicine’ to patients – similar standards should apply here.

    Secondly, the community should agree on various dispensary guidelines (i.e. easements, location requirements, etc). These standards are enabled in order to protect schools, neighborhoods – our community. Restaurants in certain zones have to get approval for a liquor license from local residents – shouldn’t the same apply here?

    And lastly, I would like to see a clear plan for ongoing monitoring and control of the dispensaries once they are established and the doors are open for business. Periodic site reviews, crime monitoring, ownership validation, etc.

    However, let’s not forget some of our elected/appointed officials are focused solely on the revenue – not long-term ramifications that our community will face. Unfortunately, the damage may have already been done.

  3. I hope the City Council will finally have the courage to keep the legalized use of these drugs out of Colorado springs.

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