Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Report finds major flaws in state's MMJ enforcement

Posted by on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 2:02 PM

The Colorado Office of the State Auditor, a state agency responsibly for checking facets of government, today released the first of two reports that shows the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division has failed to fully implement its mission to regulate and enforce in a variety of ways.

"The Division has not adequately defined the oversight activities it must perform," the report concluded, "or determined the resources it need to implement the regulatory system envisioned by the General Assembly to oversee Colorado's emerging medical marijuana industry."

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In a press release, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group says the state needs to do as good a job with compliance as the business owners it sometimes hammers on.

"The [MMIG] calls upon the state to properly fund the enforcement division responsible for oversight of the medical marijuana industry," says Michael Elliott, the group's executive director, in the release. "The responsible business owners who are members of MMIG are doing their part to make sure the system works. Our members follow the law and expect state officials to give the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division the budget it needs to ensure proper enforcement. We want more inspectors and oversight of the industry."

The Associated Press had one Colorado legislator's reaction to the news:

"We can't move forward unless we have a baseline. We have a baseline now," said Barbara Brohl, head of the Department of Revenue, which oversees the MMED. She assured lawmakers hearing the audit, "When we come back here in one year, this will be significantly different."

Brohl pointed out significant staff turnover in the MMED, which has to lay off a majority of its staff because of budget shortfalls. Her argument got a sharp response from Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton.

"It's not an excuse," Tochtrop said. "You have guidelines, by statute and by rule, and they should be followed."

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