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Feds Shut Down Medical Marijuana Shop To 'Protect' Colorado Students

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Marijuana saleswoman Marissa Dodd (center) talks to a customer about different varieties of marijuana available at the Dr. Reefer marijuana dispensary April 20, 2010, at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Marijuana saleswoman Marissa Dodd (center) talks to a customer about different varieties of marijuana available at the Dr. Reefer marijuana dispensary April 20, 2010, at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colo. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

The war on drugs: it's mostly hard, and frequently inane. But fortunately for modern-day drug-battling bureaucrats, there is a superbly easy target to take down -- medical marijuana dispensaries. Those that run such facilities often say they do so because they hope medical marijuana may help ease the suffering of patients receiving chemotherapy, or provide relief from some of the more debilitating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and glaucoma. Because they largely consider themselves to be law-abiding business proprietors, as opposed to dangerous cartels usually associated with the drug industry, they are not -- typically -- armed to the teeth, and are thus fairly pleasant for the Feds to put in the crosshairs when the need to brag about taking some weed off the streets arises.

And the streets of Colorado are apparently in need of de-reeferizing. Via HuffPost Denver's Matt Ferner:

On Friday, U.S. Attorney John Walsh's office issued letters to the owners of 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado that are within 1,000 feet of schools notifying them that they have 45 days to shut down, move their business or face federal enforcement action.

According to 7News, the 10 shops that got the letters are in the Denver metro area and in southern Colorado.

Walsh's Aug. 3 letter is not going over well with medical marijuana advocates in Colorado, who have noticed that President Barack Obama will be making a swing-state stopover in Grand Junction, Colo., on Wednesday of this week. When he arrives, the National Cannabis Industry Association (who support the Colorado Patient Voter Project, which opposes "the Obama administration's attacks on Colorado's sovereignty and its medical marijuana laws") plan on greeting him with a billboard that riffs on the Romney attack that's currently become all the rage.

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Colorado is one state where medical marijuana treatment has gained a significant foothold. As Ryan Grim and Matt Ferner reported back in May of 2012, the Colorado Democratic Party has enshrined support for medical marijuana on their state party's platform. And Colorado Republicans, by and large, don't strongly object: back in March, "56 percent of the Denver County Republican Assembly voted to support legal and regulated pot." The Golden State has asked the federal government to enable marijuana to be reclassified (the feds' current position is that marijuana is illegal in any or all forms) so that doctors in the state can have greater freedom in prescribing it as a treatment protocol.

And Colorado residents will be voting in November on a referendum that, if it passes, will pave the way for marijuana to be legalized and regulated "in a manner similar to alcohol." In June, a Rassmussen poll found that this legalization/regulation was supported by 61 percent of Colorado residents.

The Obama administration has not been particularly inclined to support these initiaves. As Grim and Ferner reported, Colorado's medical marijuana dispensaries have been the target of federal crackdowns all year, in spite of what these swing-state voters seem to desire. In May, 25 dispensaries were shuttered in response to an order from Walsh, who -- as with his recent letter -- cited the fact that they were "within 1,000 feet of a school." This requirement, however, is rooted in the federal law known as the Controlled Substances Act, which allowed states to create "drug-free school zones." In citing the federal law in this instance, the Obama administration is reneging on a promise to let state and local law take the lead on determining how medical marijuana will be regulated. And Colorado's medical marijuana dispensaries are typically in compliance with state and local ordinances.

So, what school's students is Walsh stepping in to protect from the nefarious designs of medical marijuana dispensaries? The hilarious answer, contained within a redacted version of the Aug. 3 letter Walsh sent to the dispensary proprietors, is "specifically" the delicate and impressionable young minds of the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The irony, of course, is that without these dispensaries, one of your best sources for weed would be the students of the University of Colorado. (Maybe the Obama administration is just trying to protect the existing rents of the local "Choom Gang?")

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Also on HuffPost:

Legal Marijuana Across The U.S.
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