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Denver legal marijuana business targeted for drug crimes

The Denver marijuana enterprise Sweet Leaf has been both large and profitable for some time. The legal pot dispensary has multiple outlets that employ several hundred workers. Sweet Leaf’s owners have reported scorers of millions of dollars in company revenue.

Much of that seems threatened now, following the arrest of all three of the company’s principals on criminal charges alleging illegal marijuana sales and racketeering. A recent Colorado Public Radio story reports that Denver law enforcers began to closely scrutinize the business back in 2016, after receiving information that “repeat customers were visiting the dispensary day after day.”

Investigators say that the repeat traffic linked with a practice called “looping.” They state that a close probe of Sweet Leaf outlets revealed a pattern of recurrent visits by the same people to buy a maximum amount of legal marijuana. The pot then reportedly made its way to the black market, reaping huge profits for key participants in the operation.

The matter has understandably been termed “unique” because of its occurrence in a state that already has a notably permissive legal scheme regarding marijuana use and commercial sales. The NPR article notes city authorities’ stated view that the Sweet Leaf case is “the first local prosecution of a legal pot enterprise in the U.S.”

The company’s owners will all reportedly spend a year in jail and comply with additional sentencing obligations pursuant to plea agreements they reached with state officials. A dozen Sweet Leaf workers also negotiated pleas in the matter. Cases are still ongoing against a number of the “looper” buyers who systematically visited Sweet Leaf outlets to make repetitive purchases.

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