Carbondale medical marijuana center busted
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Authorities shuttered the Mother Earth medical marijuana center in Carbondale on Friday, after arresting owner David Edgar on charges of selling marijuana to unlicensed buyers and selling cocaine to undercover law enforcement agents.
No other arrests were made, according to authorities, although further arrests have not been ruled out.
The contents of the shop, at 758 Main St., were to be packed up, inventoried, confiscated and destroyed, said Julie Postlethwait, public information officer for the state Division of Medical Marijuana Enforcement, within of the Colorado Department of Revenue.
Edgar, 29, of Carbondale, was arrested Friday morning as a result of a joint investigation over the last three weeks by the state agency and the TRIDENT (Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Team) drug task force.
According to Carbondale Police Officer Matt Gardner, Mother Earth was open for business when police arrived and officers encountered no resistance.
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“It was really pretty low key,” Gardner said.
The probe started with a tip to Carbondale police and the Division of Medical Marijuana Enforcement (DMME), according to Carbondale Police Chief Gene Schilling. Both agencies called TRIDENT to start an investigation.
Schilling said he was told that Mother Earth was selling marijuana to people who had not registered as patients under the state’s 11-year-old medical marijuana law, and that cocaine was being sold there as well.
Schilling said undercover TRIDENT agents bought pot at the Mother Earth outlet without showing a medical marijuana registration card, which is required under the law for every transaction.
The chief said the agents also bought cocaine at the same shop on two different occasions.
Police obtained an arrest warrant for Edgar based on the purchases, Schilling said.
Schilling announced the bust at the police station at 11:30 a.m. on Friday morning, shortly after it had taken place, and afterward escorted reporters to the scene.
At the shop, a single-story residential structure set back off Main Street in a shaded yard, police officers chatted with members of the media, including a camera crew from National Geographic Television that is preparing a show on the medical marijuana phenomenon in Colorado.
The show is due to air in February or March 2012.
Reporters were not allowed inside the shop because DMME investigators were inside conducting an inventory of the contents of the building and packing items for removal.
Postlethwait said there were approximately15 investigators involved in the bust itself, as well as more personnel who worked on the investigation.
Although neither Schilling nor Postlethwait knew the amounts of marijuana or cocaine allegedly sold by Edgar to the agents, Postlethwait said the cocaine cost $150 on one occasion and $200 the second time.
Schilling said that in general, the production, sale and use of medical marijuana by certified businesses and patients has not posed a problem in Carbondale, since being approved by the state’s voters in 2000 to treat certain medical conditions and symptoms.
“In my opinion, it’s a valid treatment option for some people,” Schilling said, noting that other dispensaries in town should not be alarmed by the Mother Earth closure and bust.
But, he added, “a lot of people have found it a way to get it for recreational use,” which he said is outside the law’s intent and subject to prosecution.
The building where Mother Earth had been doing business will not be seized by state authorities, Postlethwait said, but will be returned to its owner once the medical marijuana and any related evidence inside has been removed.
She said the growing operation that supplied Mother Earth with marijuana products, however, is subject to confiscation.
Schilling said he was uncertain how long Mother Earth had been in business, but Postlethwait said the owner filed the necessary paperwork with the state in 2010.
Edgar was lodged in the Garfield County Jail on Friday afternoon, and is being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.