A city hearing between attorneys representing the Sweet Leaf dispensary chain and the City of Denver concluded Tuesday, April 10, ending nearly a month after it began. The hearing over Sweet Leaf’s alleged business violations, which had been scheduled for two days in mid-March, required an additional five days of arguments and testimony that extended into April.
The gritty battle over Sweet Leaf‘s future in Denver carries no criminal charges, but the company’s 26 cannabis cultivation, dispensary and infused-product licenses within city limits could all be revoked based on what city hearing officer Suzanne Fasing recommends to Denver Department of Excise and Licenses director Ashley Kilroy, who will ultimately decide Sweet Leaf’s fate. Those 26 business licenses are all currently suspended.
The fight stems from a year-long Denver Police Department investigation into alleged illegal cannabis sales at Sweet Leaf dispensaries across Colorado, including locations in Aurora and Federal Heights that reopened shortly after a string of DPD raids in December 2017. Denver’s locations have not reopened since the raids. City attorneys argue that Sweet Leaf management and ownership implemented a structure to promote looping, or selling the one-ounce limit (two ounces for medical patients) to the same customer multiple times in the same day. The one-ounce limit was established by Amendment 64, but language distinguishing whether that limit was per purchase or per day was cloudy until a new law took effect on January 1.
As a result of the raids, fifteen current and former Sweet Leaf budtenders were arrested; their cases are all in pretrial phases. None of the company’s owners listed in the Excise and Licenses suspension order — Anthony Suaro, Christian Johnson and Matthew Aiken — have been arrested, nor have executives named in Sweet Leaf employee interviews conducted by DPD.
Sweet Leaf’s attorneys agree that what the