New investigation into raided pot businesses as one reopens

One of the medical marijuana dispensaries raided by federal agents last month reopened Wednesday, just as state and city of Denver officials begin a combined investigation into the raid targets.

A state official also confirmed that the raids resulted from a federal grand jury investigation.

The scene of broken glass and agents hauling off evidence Nov. 21, VIP Cannabis in Denver reopened selling products purchased from wholesalers, said Sean McAllister, the lawyer for one owner.

He said the business has not violated state law and there has been no evidence it ran afoul of federal guidelines.

“At this point, there is nothing stopping them from opening,” said McAllister, who represents VIP co-owner Gerardo Uribe.

Ron Kammerzell, senior director of enforcement for the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, said the division and the city of Denver have launched an investigation into the targeted businesses.

He said state officials want to determine whether enforcement actions should be taken, but most of the federal case file is sealed because of the involvement of the grand jury.

“So it makes it very difficult for us, the way the statutes are written, for us to just go in and arbitrarily close (the businesses) without doing our own investigation,” he said.

Kammerzell said the state and city of Denver began collaborating Tuesday on their investigation, which could involve site visits and interviews. City officials confirmed the investigation but would not discuss details.

“The state and city take seriously their obligations to implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems,” the state and city said in a statement. “As a result, our two governments have initiated a collaborative regulatory investigation of the businesses targeted by the DOJ in furtherance of the federally mandated robust regulatory regime, and to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.”

In last month’s raids, federal agents swarmed more than a dozen locations including VIP Cannabis, near Federal Boulevard and Alameda Avenue.

A search warrant obtained by The Denver Post identified 10 “target subjects,” including the owners of VIP Cannabis.

Sources have told The Post the raids were part of an investigation looking at possible links to Colombian drug cartels.

VIP Cannabis was operating while its state license application was pending. McAllister said state officials said last week that it was up to the business whether to reopen.

Under Colorado law, dispensaries must grow most of their own marijuana but may sell a limited amount of pot purchased by wholesale, which allowed VIP to reopen, he said.

Eric Gorski: 303-954-1971, or

Staff writer Jeremy P. Meyer contributed to this report.

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