Update, Friday, December 15, noon: The Denver Police Department has released the names and booking photos of the thirteen suspects arrested in connection with the raids on Sweet Leaf dispensaries. None of the dispensary chain’s co-owners listed in the Denver Department of Excises and Licenses suspension order, including Anthony Suaro, Christian Johnson and Matthew Aiken, were among those arrested. Most of the employees taken into custody were budtenders or lower-level employees, according to the family members and social media accounts of suspects.
The fallout from law enforcement raids across Sweet Leaf dispensaries on Thursday, December 14, is still unraveling. According to the Denver Police Department, the raids were conducted because Sweet Leaf stores were allegedly selling unlawful amounts of cannabis to customers, a practice known as “looping.”
As of Friday, thirteen arrests were made after a year-long investigation into the Sweet Leaf operations, according to the DPD. “The operation is the result of an extensive, year-long criminal investigation into illegal distribution of marijuana at those locations,” reads the announcement. “The alleged criminal actions are related to the sale of marijuana in excess of allowable amounts established by Amendment 64. Amendment 64 allows for the personal use of marijuana, and specifically allows the possession, use, display, purchase, and transport of one ounce or less of marijuana.”
A suspension order was sent to Sweet Leaf owners Anthony Suaro, Christian Johnson and Matthew Aiken on Thursday, explaining that the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses had suspended 26 of the company’s cultivation, processing and dispensary licenses. A hearing to decide additional action is expected within thirty days, says Excise and Licenses communications director Daniel Rowland.
The arrests seem to have stretched throughout the company’s totem pole, with multiple family members of current and former budtenders and cultivation staff reporting to Westword that their daughters,