Some think cartels help supply medical marijuana in Colorado |

Some think cartels help supply medical marijuana in Colorado

Mike McPhee and Victoria Barbatelli
The Denver Post

Demand for medical marijuana in Colorado has grown so fast in the past few months that it has outstripped the production of legal “grow” operations and is now probably being supplied by international drug cartels, say some local sheriffs and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

And as dispensaries proliferate throughout the state, police and lawyers say they are worried about the peripheral crime rising around the shops intended to function as pharmacies, selling medical marijuana prescribed to people who suffer one of eight conditions, ranging from chronic pain to glaucoma.

“Dispensaries are popping up like mushrooms,” said DEA special agent-in-charge Jeffrey Sweetin. “Now we have thousands of 20- to 25-year-olds carrying cards. And the cartels are getting rich off this law.”

Last summer, the Colorado Board of Health declined to limit the number of patients that medical marijuana dispensaries could service.

The result, health department spokesman Mark Salley said, was a boom in the number of people who received cards allowing them to purchase medical pot. There are now 13,000 people in possession of such cards.

Colorado, which approved medical marijuana in 2000, is one of 14 states that permit it.

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