Dan Hartman: Regulation needed

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Editor's note: This letter was written by Dan Hartman. The previously published author was incorrect.

I am the director of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division (MMED) of the Colorado Department of Revenue, and I want to make you fully aware how your vote will affect the availability of medical marijuana in your community. In 2000, the citizens of Colorado voted to legalize the use of medical marijuana, and therefore, the ability for lawfully registered patients to obtain and use medical marijuana within your community will not change. If your community bans commercial medical marijuana businesses (centers, cultivations and infused-product manufacturers) you will only remove the regulated medical marijuana distribution model from your community.

Our agency is tasked with building and maintaining a transparent and unambiguous regulatory scheme within which Colorado’s commercial medical marijuana industry will operate. Law enforcement officers who are criminal investigators determine if an applicant (owner) is able to meet statutory requirements by conducting extensive background investigations that delve into each applicant’s financial, criminal and personal history. These investigations ensure industry members meet statutory requirements such as financial stability and good character. Individuals who work as employees or vendors also must pass background checks to obtain an MMED occupational license allowing them to work within this industry.

The MMED regulatory compliance staff is made up of law enforcement criminal investigators and auditors who monitor commercial medical marijuana from seed to sale. Business owners must account for each plant introduced to growth medium to its final sale to a patient. They must install and maintain 24-hour video surveillance systems in each location, and they must adhere to stringent accounting controls and practices. Businesses are required to submit online reports and maintain extensive records on all product grown and any transactions or transfers that take place with their medical marijuana inventory. This regulatory scheme creates a closed system in which the product may be obtained and transferred only between these heavily regulated businesses. We partner with state and federal authorities and law enforcement to address concerns, stop illegal activity and, perhaps most importantly, provide a bright line to determine if a medical marijuana business is operating within this regulatory scheme.

Be aware that Colorado’s constitution ensures that lawfully registered patients may grow their own medical marijuana or obtain it from a caregiver. This right will not be affected by your vote to ban medical marijuana businesses. While caregivers are required to register their cultivation location with us, they are not under our jurisdiction and we cannot regulate their activities.

Citizens and law enforcement agencies in areas that have enacted bans have contacted us asking why we do not take action against those operating unlawfully within their jurisdiction. Unfortunately, communities that vote to ban commercial medical marijuana operations also ban the MMED from regulating and monitoring any and all medical marijuana activity within their community. Only those businesses operating within areas that allow for commercial medical marijuana will be regulated and monitored by the MMED.

I want Colorado citizens to truly understand what they are voting for or against. This ban will not remove medical marijuana from your community, but it will prevent the MMED from being able to help ensure that medical marijuana sales are regulated, monitored, safe, secure and taxed.

Dan Hartman

Director, Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue

Comments

Scott Wedel 3 years ago

What a smackdown of the lies told by those seeking to ban local mmj businesses!

Makes me proud to be a Colorado citizen.

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Collin 3 years ago

Beautiful - Exactly what needed to be said. Excellent letter Julie

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BeCoolHoneyBunny 3 years ago

Exactly! Thank you Julie. Good to see an authority on the issue lay out the facts. A vote to ban is a vote for ZERO regulation.

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Ryan Fisher 3 years ago

These are the FACTS. This is not some emotion based piece from Ms. Watts, Ms. Victory, or Mr. Harrington. By the way, where are they now? Chickadee? Nothing to say? LivinLarge? Maynard? Strangely silent...

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JJ Southard 3 years ago

3pindabber...I hear ya loud in clear in this silent room.....pins are droppin'...

Seems like I have been quoting the MMED in my many comments. Funny how our law enforcement agencies are in direct conflict with this law enforcement agency. You would think they would all want to be on the same team....wouldn't you?

Thank you Dan Hartman.

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rhys jones 3 years ago

I am happy to see the Pilot giving equal time to the opposition, as they have already voiced their opinion in this affair. And especially that it was such a well-written and -rationed treatise, based on facts and not emotion.

I am sure it is only a matter of time until we receive a volley in response -- while the antagonists in this case, who prompted this necessity to begin with, may be busy tromping the halls of justice seeking another collar to tug, or consulting pseudo-experts to craft a witty response, of a reply you are assured: That's what they're paid for.

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

Well, seems to me that this letter from MMED suggests that many of the claims made in the Pilot's opinion piece used to justify their opinion are simply false.

Thus, The Pilot should reconsider their opinion based upon what MMED, the relevant state agency, clearly states.

Note that the letter from MMED is not suggesting that the public vote yes or no on the measures to ban mmj businesses. It simply states facts. But it is incredible how the facts are so different than the claims made by proponents of the ban and the Pilot's Our View opinion piece.

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boatski 3 years ago

None of this will matter if the Fed's come to town and shut everything down. And if they don't make it to town and you own a dispensary have a good time trying to fill out your Federal taxes. I think they are going to get you one way or the other!

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Ryan Fisher 3 years ago

Boat- The only reason the Feds are in town in San Diego is because California does not have clear state laws governing medical marijuana. Colorado has created rules (HB-1284, HB-1043, SB-109) so that dispensaries can be well within "unambiguous compliance" of state laws.

The IRS has already completed numerous audits of dispensaries in Colorado and California. They have issued guidelines of what is deductible and what is not. Not to mention they helped the CO DOR's MMED screen all the applicants who wanted to open dispensaries last summer.

So, they very well may "get us one way or another," but what do you think will happen when the 26th state passes MMJ legislation?

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boatski 3 years ago

"Medical marijuana may seem prevalent in Colorado, but its precarious place in the eyes of the federal government is evident in two unfortunate recent developments."

"Last month, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives sent a letter to gun sellers saying it is illegal for medical marijuana patients to own firearms. And last week, the lone bank in the state that openly worked with the industry closed an estimated 300 marijuana-related accounts for fear that the companies are breaking federal law."

http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_19040391

I don't think it will matter how many States pass MMJ legislation, it's the Feds that will be the thorn in their side. Good luck changing their minds!

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

YVB, Even if you are right about Obama trying to gain conservatives then that still does not argue that the Feds would act in Colorado.

It may be hard to believe, but it is true that Colorado was the first and still the only state that regulates mmj from seedling to sales.

So unlike any other state, dispensaries in Colorado are following state law for the growing and selling of mmj. So if the Feds were to take action in Colorado, then unlike any other state, the Colorado Attorney General would be expected to be in court on the side of the dispensary. Note in California that their Attorney General is not defending the dispensaries because he knows he cannot claim they are following state law because there is no state law for the dispensaries to follow.

I am not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that only state governments can argue 10th Amendment state rights. So if the Feds were to act then Colorado would be arguing a 10th Amendment case against the Feds. Well, that is hardly going to win over conservatives.

So the Feds taking action in Colorado would be the exact sort of big government overruling the states that conservatives criticize.

The big problem in California is that there is no state law to provide regulation and many citizens generally support so if a city takes action against local dispensaries then they often lose in court when the jury fails to convict. So now the feds are going in with what they hope is enough evidence to get juries to agree there is a problem and get some convictions. And the feds are also using civil forfeiture laws which just need a judge.

That is what Colorado avoided by passing comprehensive mmj regulatory laws. Here if a dispensary opens up illegally then it is easy to bust and the state has a much clearer case of all the state laws that were broken.

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blue_spruce 3 years ago

Man, yampavalleyboy, you are a true piece of work.

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tcb 3 years ago

Being the Director of the MMED has got to be pretty cool. Bet it pays well, too. This letter sounds to me like a desperate ploy to help Hartman save his job and the jobs of the other new members of the MMED.

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Ryan Fisher 3 years ago

YVB- What Obama needs to do is not lose Colorado. And the only way he will accomplish that is by soft peddling the MMJ issue here, because a majority of card holders vote Democrat. So maybe if he loses the election there will be federal presence here, but I doubt it. Do you know how many resources it takes to mobilize and coordinate multiple local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies? I doubt we will even see action in California against the 12 dispensaries that were sent letters (out of 1000's, mind you.)

And it was always illegal federally to possess firearms and marijuana; the ATF merely sent letters to retail gun sellers because some of them asked for clarification. We'll see how much the NRA appreciates their members being told they have to give up their gun rights. The banking thing is old news too...there will be a state chartered credit union for MMJ businesses soon. We are at the tipping point folks.

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boatski 3 years ago

Feds bust medical marijuana growers

http://www.9news.com/news/article/224595/188/Feds-bust-medical-marijuana-growers

DENVER - Federal agents have seized two large-scale medical-marijuana grow operations in the Denver area.

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tcb 3 years ago

Heeeeeeeeeere come the Feds. Watch out drug dealers(oops, i mean dispensaries). Federal law trumps state law. Ruh roh!

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

But this was done with cooperation from State of Colorado against people not following state law. The lesson here is that an illegal operation does not merely face state penalties, but can be handled by the feds to face federal drug laws.

http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_19117901

Thursday's raid at the warehouse at 3885 Forest St. was the second time in four months that law enforcement officials have seized marijuana plants at the facility. Denver police, acting on a tip, raided the warehouse in June and seized nearly 2,000 plants, according to a Denver search warrant affidavit and a criminal complaint in the federal case.

According to the complaint, the Do family then rebuilt the cultivation operation. Federal and state officials contend that the warehouse does not have the required state license.

The Do family's previous law enforcement run-in raised questions about why state regulators — seeking to implement the most rigorous marijuana- business rules in the country — allowed Earth's Medicine to continue to operate after the raid. Julie Postlethwait, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division, declined to explain the decision but said regulators had worked with federal agents on the case.

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

Note that these people were busted a few months by the local police and no one noticed. All that happened this time is the local police cooperated with the feds.

Note that feds did not find some dispensary following state laws to bust, but limited themselves to what the state has already busted.

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JJ Southard 3 years ago

The arrests in Denver were a Denver PD investigation of an illegal, unlicensed grow op, assisted by the DEA. By no means was it a Federal Raid. The DEA Denver spokesperson even clarified they have no intention of raiding the licensed gardens or MMC's....but when they come across an enormous warehouse like this, operating illegally, they are all over it. I read the complaint filed in court.

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LongDoggie 3 years ago

This is a great piece. It puts the debate back in the realm of reality. I do think the people working in the industry are taking bigger risks and dealing with greater regulation than any other type of business. For this they should be commended, for they are providing a needed service to the community as well as the patients.

It's nice to hear some logic for a change rather than arguments like "my daughter got hooked on smack and though she never got any drugs from a dispensary, I want them all shut down, so it doesn't happen to other young people." I paraphrase, but that was the gist of the op ed. I thought huh? (think Scooby Do). lol

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