Marijuana: Denver Department of Excise and Licenses gets spanked in audit of MMJ licensing

Categories: Marijuana

Tom Downey
The state medical marijuana licensing authority received a scolding from auditors in March and then again on Monday, and now it is Denver's turn to get spanked. The city auditor's office released a report this morning to Denver's Independent Audit Committee outlining numerous problems with the city's handling of the medical marijuana industry. "The audit found that the Department of Excise and Licenses does not have a basic control framework in place for effective governance of the City's medical marijuana program," says the first paragraph of the report's highlights.

Department of Excise and Licenses Director Tom Downey told the Independent Audit Committee meeting this morning that he anticipated and accepts the findings.

"We have done everything we could with limited resources and we are asking for more resources to do things better," Downey said.

The report identified seven key shortcomings: MMJ records are incomplete and inaccurate; the department lacks policies to govern the industry; the city and state coordination has been poor; deadlines have not been established or enforced; there is a shortage of management oversight and staff; the licensure fees were established arbitrarily; and key information has not been kept up-to-date as MMJ policies have evolved.

These issues have resulted in an unknown number of dispensaries and grow operations operating within the city without city licensing, according to the auditor's office. These businesses are operating legally due to a loophole in state licensing, which Downey says has been fixed. But since these facilities do not have proper licensing from the city, they are not being monitored to the extent that they should be, the audit notes, and as a result inspections are not being done, facilities are not being monitored -- and the city is losing revenue, since it does not know of their existence.

When he took the position after Michael Hancock was elected mayor, department staff had been cut by 20 percent and applications had not been processed for six months, Downey noted. "The department as a whole needed to go through a major overhaul," he explained. "Over 50 percent of our staff is new since two years ago."

Downey also said that technology issues and regulation inconsistencies added to the challenges -- right as the MMJ industry was burgeoning.

(The department will be gaining additional resources if the proposition for a city sales tax of up to 10 percent on recreational marijuana passes in November.)

Continue reading to find out more issues in the audit.

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I fall in the %.02 the new REGULATIONS do NOT effect negatively .

I knew one day 'Jesus' would look out for this pathetic, blind, cripple !!!!!

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

          Get REGULATED, Bitches! ... you BEGGED For It !!


Just recalling how on exactly July 1, 2010 a Denver Treasurer employee called me in person (Cannabis University™Inc) to ask why I had NOT filed an application for the MMJ Dispensary license (I have a Denver sales tax license). I told her I was not a dispensary, that's why....what happened to this diligent employee??


We suck, so give us more money, then we'll suck less, we promise. If someone said that to their employer, they would be fired, not get a raise. 

I'm so ashamed of Colorado's commercial weed, and the regulatory scams that surround it. We pride ourselves on how progressive we are, only to find our pride is based on illusions. Instead of saving money by de-criminalizing weed, we spend money on regulations and enforcement divisions that seem to think more money is the only thing that will make them better. 

If all the outrageous license and application fees aren't enough to regulate and enforce our State's 500 or so MMJ shops, why would anyone think more money will? How many liquor stores, breweries, distilleries and bars do we have, and why can they be regulated at a fraction of the price per business?

Most people voting for A64 wanted marijuana to be regulated like alcohol. One could say, they voted that way because regulating it like Medical Marijuana isn't working very well, and they wanted a simpler way to regulate weed. It could have been easy, dismantle the MMCED and give regulatory authority to the liquor enforcement division. Regulate weed like beer and wine and regulate concentrates like liquor. But like always, common sense is absent, and greed is the real motivation in our quest to control a plant, its manufacturers, sellers and users.


@Monkey weed dont need to be regulated and enforced that much.a lot of drama over nothing

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