A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers trying to regulate the state's medical marijuana industry is calling on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to stop raids of medical marijuana operations, saying the raids are making it harder to create rules to keep tabs on the booming industry.
They e-mailed Holder a letter Monday, copying in President Barack Obama and officials at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Tracy Schmaler, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said the department would review the letter but declined further comment.
Last month, a suburban Denver man who said he was a medical marijuana provider was charged with drug possession in federal court after DEA agents raided his home and found 224 pot plants. Agents became suspicious about the size of the man's Highlands Ranch operation after he told a Denver television station he expected to make up to $400,000 a year.
Agents also raided two Colorado laboratories that test medical marijuana for pesticides and potency after they applied for licenses from the DEA. The operator of one said he was raided on the day he showed up at the state Capitol to testify on some of the proposed medical marijuana regulations.
Democratic Sen. Chris Romer of Denver, one of four lawmakers to sign the letter, said he's most troubled by the laboratory raids since the labs appeared to be in compliance with Colorado law. He said the Highlands Ranch case is less clear-cut.
Romer wants to pass regulations that require dispensaries to grow their marijuana in rural or industrial areas — eliminating neighborhood grows — and have the state keep a confidential database of their location. He said he's facing resistance because growers fear that the DEA could use the database to crack down on them.
"It's kind of hard to build trust in the environment that's been created by these raids," Romer said.
Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, said the federal government shouldn't be getting involved in any possible violations of Colorado's medical marijuana law.
The letter also was signed by Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, and Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver.
March 8, 2010
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4 Colorado lawmakers ask US attorney general to stop medical marijuana raids