Turnover at the top
Tuesday we confirmed what's been widely reported by Denver media outlets: Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division director Dan Hartman is out.
The official word from MMED spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait is that it's just part of the usual house-cleaning that happens with new management — in this case Barbara Brohl, appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper in June as head of the Department of Revenue.
"A lot of times, there's management changes when you get a new executive director; we got new leadership, of course, about six months later than everybody else," Postlethwait says. "So it's kind of odd in timing, but it isn't uncommon when you get new management."
Uncommon or not, it's certainly suspicious given that Hartman had an opinion piece published recently in several Colorado newspapers. As reported by the Denver Post, that essay drew criticism from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
Here's a part that was published in Steamboat Springs, which voted not to pass a ban on MMJ centers on Tuesday:
"I want Colorado citizens to truly understand what they are voting for or against," wrote Hartman in Steamboat Today on Oct. 13. "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."
Postlethwait couldn't say whether the essay played a part in Hartman's removal, instead referring us to Mark Couch, DOR spokesman. Asked repeatedly if Hartman sealed his own fate, or if Suthers' disapproval provided incentive to make the move, Couch good-naturedly repeated, "The department has been reviewing its organizational structure since July."
Couch says Laura Harris, currently the director of the Liquor and Tobacco Enforcement Division, will assume Hartman's role Nov. 14, while Hartman will become director of the Division of Racing Events.
• The Denver Post reports that MMJ-center bans failed in Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek, Palisade and unincorporated Routt County. Bans passed in Yampa, Brush and Fort Collins.
• The Coloradoan says the number of marijuana-related arrests in Fort Collins has essentially remained the same over the past five years, though medical marijuana dispensaries have an increased presence.
"There is a gray area out there, and at some point, a police officer may say it's not worth wading into," police Chief Jerry Schiager told reporter Robert Allen. "I'm kind of surprised that our arrests haven't gone down."
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