Officers remove evidence from VIP Cannabis in Denver, November 21, 2013. Federal authorities executed search warrants and seizure warrants at multiple Denver-area medical marijuana facilities, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Colorado moves to shut down raided medical marijuana businesses

State regulators have moved to shut down four interconnected medical marijuana operations under scrutiny since being raided by federal agents in late November.

The businesses, which have had license applications pending since 2010, received notices of denial from the state last week. They have 60 days to request a hearing to challenge the state’s determination.

The businesses include VIP Cannabis in Denver, a high-volume dispensary that reopened a few weeks after the raids.

Sources have told The Denver Post that federal investigators are looking at possible connections to Colombian drug cartels, which the targeted businesses and individuals have denied. None of the 10 men named as subjects have been charged in the case.

Related: Coverage of the largest federal raid ever on Colorado’s medical marijuana industry.

The businesses were part of a final batch of pending license applications that date to summer 2010, when the state began regulating the medical marijuana industry. The businesses were allowed to operate while the state processed their licenses, and only recently have officials cleared the backlog.

The state Marijuana Enforcement Division did not immediately provide the grounds for the notices of denial.

A spokeswoman for the agency said the state has issued notices of denial on the following license applications:

• VIP Cannabis at 2949 W. Alameda Ave. in Denver, three related grow warehouses and the associated license of owner Carlos Solano.

• Grateful Meds in Nederland, one related grow and the associated licenses of owners David Furtado and Robert Gimenez.

• Kushism, at 2527 Federal Blvd. in Denver, and an associated grow.

• Highlands Cannabis Company at 3355 W. 38th Ave. in Denver, a related grow and the license of owner John Esmeral.

Related: Pot plant relocation cost Denver thousands in bridge project; money mystery remains

Two of the dispensaries, Kushism and Highlands Cannabis Company, have been shuttered since the Nov. 21 raids.

It was not immediately clear whether the other dispensaries were required to shut down after receiving the notices of denial.

That is often the case, but businesses also may receive court orders allowing them to remain open while the process is ongoing, said Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the enforcement division.

VIP Cannabis was open for business on Tuesday.

Denver lawyer Sean McAllister has represented Gerardo Uribe, who records show owns a grow connected to VIP Cannabis and the building that houses the dispensary.

McAllister declined to comment Tuesday on the case involving VIP and related businesses but in general said the state is providing vague allegations, making a response impossible.

“The agency is going through a sham process without due process,” he said.

Eric Gorski: 303-954-1971, or

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