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Federal prosecutors want cash from Denver marijuana grow

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Associated Press Updated: March 10, 2014 at 5:52 pm 0

DENVER — Federal prosecutors in Denver want to seize more than $850,000 from a medical marijuana business that was indicted in state court last year.

Colorado U.S. Attorney John Walsh's office announced Monday it is also seeking to seize a warehouse from the business where prosecutors say hundreds of pounds of marijuana were grown and processed, then illegally distributed to medical marijuana dispensaries in the Denver area.

The dispensary owners were among 12 people indicted in state court last year on charges, including tax evasion, securities fraud and money laundering. The indictment says they defrauded investors and ran an illegal marijuana growing operation in a pattern of racketeering.

While medical marijuana is legal in Colorado, growing, distribution and sales are tightly regulated.

Walsh said the civil forfeiture complaint shows U.S. prosecutors' commitment to enforcing federal marijuana laws.

Legal recreational marijuana sales and use began in Colorado in January — but the drug remains illegal under federal law. The U.S. Justice Department has said it won't interfere with businesses in states where marijuana's sale or use has been made legal so long as the states keep the drug away from children, other states, criminal cartels and federal property, among other conditions.

Marijuana from the warehouse and illegal home grows was sold to both medical marijuana patients and people buying pot illegally on the black market, the Colorado indictment says. Several of the cases are still pending in state court.

Those indicted were involved in the kind of "broad-scale criminal activity" that warranted federal intervention, Walsh said.

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