Marijuana Facts

Owners of Sweet Leaf dispensary chain sentenced to a year in jail for illegal marijuana distribution

In a landmark case involving licensed Colorado marijuana retailers, the owners of the shuttered Sweat Leaf dispensary chain each were sentenced to one year in prison Friday for their role in selling large quantities of pot to the same customers in the same day.

Christian Johnson, Matthew Aiken and Anthony Sauro each pleaded guilty in Denver District Court to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Act and illegally selling and distributing marijuana. Their plea deals stipulated one year in prison, followed by one year of mandatory parole and one year probation, to be served concurrently.

“This was the culmination of a year-long investigation by Denver police and subsequent year-long investigation by a Denver grand jury,” lead prosecutor Kenneth Boyd told Judge Shelly Gillman Friday.

At the heart of this case is a practice in the marijuana industry called “looping,” where multiple times in a day, a customer would buy the maximum amount of marijuana allowed — one ounce — and do it over and over again.

Boyd said his team had evidence of loopers doing this at the shops’ recreational side 30 to 40 times a day. The practice led to almost 2.5 tons of illegal marijuana going into the black market, he said.

“This was a case where it was widespread,” Boyd told the judge. “And the owners knew what was going on and encouraged the practice.”

The parent companies of Sweet Leaf, Dynamic Growth Partner LLC and AJS Holdings, LLC, also pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and failure to file a tax return or pay a tax. Each corporation was ordered to pay a $125,000 fine.

This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates.