With Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry growing at such a rapid rate the regulatory bureau has had to step in and oversee operations. The growth is primarily due to the expected expansion of recreational as well as medical industries. Even though marijuana has been legalized in Colorado the state is still trying to regulate the drug and tie up some of the loose ends.
State officials have received notices of intent from 255 businesses which have plans to apply for a license after July, at which time the state will open up its recreational industry to businesses that were not originally medical marijuana businesses. The state agency overseeing Colorado’s experiment of marijuana legalization is adding enforcement agents, data analysis, along with undercover operatives. Officials believe these steps will make businesses more accountable.
Just a year ago, there was a state audit that criticized what was then the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division for not being able to track who was growing or selling marijuana. Budgeting and management was bad and there was no definition of marijuana’s role.
Now that there is more solid funding from application and licensing fees the Medical Enforcement Division has a stronger financial footing. This is the agencies third director in the last four years but finally the medical marijuana license applications have been caught up to the applications submitted in mid-2010.
Some industries are still questioning if the agency is capable of handling the challenges, more new businesses, and enforcing the product testing. In 2012 the division had to close three field offices and lay off the staff after a moratorium on new business applications force it to stretch operating expenses budgeted for one year over two years.
The Marijuana Division currently has 30 employees and they would like to see that number increased to 55 hopefully by the end of the fiscal year, in June. With increased manpower they are hoping to open some other offices in Colorado Springs, Northern Colorado and the Grand Junction.
Part of the expansion has made way for the secret shopper program. This will make sure businesses are not selling to minors. This plan is called the “underage compliance program” it is similar to the programs that are used in the liquor industry. There will be consumers sent out to retail shops to try and purchase marijuana. Then the operatives will go to the medical dispensaries and try to purchase cannabis without an official MMJ card. Although Colorado has a smoke your marijuana and feel good attitude these are some questions that linger yet unsaid aloud.
- It would appear Colorado has the resources to hire and fund a Marijuana Division for the recreational marijuana industry but what about other states?
- Will people who use marijuana be able to travel from state to state or country to country with their marijuana?
- Will there be a breathalyzer for someone stoned behind the wheel of a moving vehicle?
- Will medical marijuana smokers be able to smoke during work hours?
- What about the individuals who drink, smoke marijuana and drive?