U.S. Attorney John Walsh said 23 dispensaries within 1,000 feet of schools have until Feb. 27 to shut down or face federal penalties, which can include asset seizure or forfeiture of property. Walsh's office declined to release a list of targeted businesses but says there will be more letters sent out in the future.
A Denver lawyer who represents dispensaries is advising his clients to ignore the threats.
"I think this is a colossal bluff on the part of our U.S. Attorney. I don't think he has the stomach or the resources for this kind of a battle," attorney Robert Corry said.
Corry says the U.S. Attorney is "declaring war" on state lawmakers and the governor who set up some of the most intense regulations for any industry in the state.
Corry says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told a member of Congress last month that if dispensaries are following state regulations in Colorado, the Department of Justice will leave them alone.
State law prohibits medical marijuana businesses within 1,000 feet of schools, but grandfathered in those businesses already in existence before regulations were passed in 2010.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)