Denver’s Marijuana Licensing Problematic
Substantial Risks Posed to City
Agency is Moving to Resolve Issues
(Denver) An audit of Denver’s Medical Marijuana Licensing process has identified significant areas of concern that pose a substantial risk to the city. The performance audit of the Department of Excise and Licenses Medical Marijuana operating unit was released to the public by Denver Auditor Dennis Gallagher and briefed before the city’s Independent Audit Committee, Thursday morning.
The audit notes that the process is inefficient and ineffective and has significant issues including a lack of management oversight and incomplete, inaccurate and unsecure marijuana records and data.
“The issues raised in this audit are very concerning,” said Gallagher in response to the audit. “Particularly as the city is now confronted with establishing a licensing and regulatory scheme for what is termed ‘retail marijuana’ which was authorized under Amendment 64. We must shore up the system.”
The audit found that there are many Medical Marijuana establishments operating in the city without a valid city license. Further, the Department does not know how many medical businesses are operating in Denver. With the coming of Amendment 64 it is critical that the city develop and implement a robust system for regulating marijuana-related businesses before the current situation is exacerbated.
Contributing to the problems identified in the audit is a lack of sufficient resources. The audit recommends that the agency seek additional staffing to enhance the efficiency of the process and strengthen internal controls.
In its formal response to the audit, Excise and Licenses agreed with every recommendation and has already started implementing the solutions.
“I am very encouraged” Gallagher said, “by the response from the agency and the fact that they are aggressively moving forward with implementing our recommendations. To his credit, Tom Downey, the Director of Excise and Licenses, has taken a very proactive approach to acknowledging and resolving the issues. I also encourage the Mayor and City Council to support the agency’s efforts particularly with regard to providing the necessary resources as soon as possible. This must be a high priority. We can and we must get this right!”
Highlights from the audit include:
· The city’s medical marijuana records and data are incomplete, inaccurate and at times inaccessible;
· The Department lacks formal policies and procedures for the medical marijuana licensing process;
· Deadlines are either not established or not enforced for key steps in the licensure process;
· Key information is not kept up to date as medical marijuana policies have evolved;
· The process lacks management oversight, adequate staffing, and proper segregation of duties.
Read the audit