Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division gets awful grade in auditor's report
The Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, which is charged with overseeing dispensaries and other MMJ-related enterprises, has been among the state's most beleaguered institutions for years. Note the big staff cuts last April and the September announcement that no appointments would be available until February. Even so, the damning nature of a new report from the state auditor about Colorado's marijuana regulatory system is still surprising (read it below), as is the blunt title of a release about it: "State Oversight of Colorado's Medical Marijuana Industry Ineffective."
Tomorrow morning, the Legislative Audit Committee will continue going through the audit report during a 7 a.m.-to-8:45 a.m. meeting tomorrow in the Audit Hearing Room of the Legislative Services Building, and given the dismal review of the performance by the Department of Revenue, the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division's direct overseer, there should be plenty to discuss.
As pointed out by the release, from the office of auditor Dianne Rey, officials "envisioned a heavily regulated system that would track medical marijuana from the time the seed for a marijuana plant goes into the ground to the time medical marijuana is cultivated, packaged, and stored." But a true seed-to-sale methodology has yet to be implemented.
Why not? The MMED spent $1.1 million during fiscal years 2011 and 2012, according to the auditor's figures, to get such a system online, but the inability to pay a contractor an additional $400,000 for actual implementation means it still doesn't work. (The reason for the shortfall: "financial difficulties.") The MMED hopes to finally get things going by the end of this year, but there are no guarantees.
A related total fail: The MMED requires businesses to submit a dozen different tracking forms, including travel manifests that show when plants or products are transported from their facilities -- but at present, division personnel don't actually review them.
That's the equivalent of doing your homework and then watching the teacher toss it directly into a trashcan.
The MMED's ineptitude when it comes to strategic planning is also cited by the auditor. For instance, the division received $8.1 million in revenue during the months of July and August 2010 alone due to a mandate that businesses apply for a state license by August 1 if they wanted to keep their doors open. But this windfall didn't last, with the division experiencing nineteen consecutive months of net losses during fiscal years 2011 and 2012 -- a catastrophe displayed in this graphic.
Continue for more about the report, including the complete document.