The Denver DA has officially charged 10 out of 13 Sweet Leaf employees who were taken into custody on December 14 on suspicion of illegal marijuana sales. Further investigation has concluded that the budtenders sold “unlawful amounts of marijuana” in a method known as “looping.”
A complaining neighbor was what led the Denver Police Department to begin the investigation in the first place. The reporting neighbor said that several people were “making multiple trips each day to and from their parked vehicles, to the store, continuing these ‘loops’ for several hours at a time.”
Five budtenders face felony charges for cannabis distribution of more than four ounces. Those facing felonies could face 6-12 months in jail and/or fines between $1,000-$100,000. The remaining five budtenders are facing misdemeanors for cannabis distribution of more than one ounce. They could face 6-18 months in jail and/or fines between $500-$5,000.
According to Colorado law, people can only buy and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a time in a single sales transaction. According to the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division earlier this year:
The division will seek administrative action against licensees attempting to circumvent the statutory and rule requirement imposing the limitation of one ounce per transaction of retail marijuana. Sales that are structured as multiple, stand-alone transactions may be viewed by the division as an attempt to evade quantity limitations on the sale of retail marijuana, resulting in recommendation for administrative action.
Further, an individual in possession of more than one ounce of retail marijuana or its equivalent is acting unlawfully.
In the case of Sweet Leaf budtenders, the DA found that they were guilty of attempting “to evade quantity limitations”, something that ultimately led to the charges they received on Thursday.
The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division will roll out new regulations for recreational sales starting January 1. These adopted regulations will expand on rules already in place, perhaps in attempts to make things crystal clear on what constitutes as a “single sales transaction” to avoid anymore instances of looping. New rules state:
A retail marijuana store and its employees are prohibited from transferring more than one ounce of retail marijuana flower or its equivalent in retail marijuana concentrate or retail marijuana product in a single transaction to a consumer. A single transaction includes multiple transfers to the same consumer during the same business day where the retail marijuana store employee knows or reasonably should know that such transfer would result in that consumer possessing more than one ounce of marijuana.