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State blasts MMJ oversight again, weed suggested for farmers markets, more

CannaBiz

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Fool me once ...

In March, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor released a damning report saying that the Department of Revenue's Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division had not only poorly executed its mission of regulating the industry, but had spent lavishly on things like office furniture. Monday, the auditors were back with the second in their two-part series, this one (tinyurl.com/cdpheaudit) a look at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which administers the patient registry.

Guess how it fared.

"Public Health's controls over access to medical marijuana do not provide assurance that only qualified individuals receive red cards," the report summarizes. "Public Health has also set its fees too high, resulting in a fund balance that far exceeds the program's needs. In addition, the State has not developed an effective mechanism to oversee caregivers."

The audit found that 903 physicians had recommended red cards for 108,000 Colorado patients, but that half of those came from just 12 doctors, including one who recommended roughly 8,400 people. Higher-than-average plant counts were also a concern, with one individual getting a recommendation of 501 plants. (Amendment 20 typically allows six.)

Auditors also found that more than a third of the currently valid red cards were issued outside of the mandated 35-day turnaround.

As far as the money is concerned: "The Medical Marijuana Cash Fund has been out of compliance with a statutory limit on cash fund uncommitted reserves every year since Fiscal Year 2004," reads the report. "At the end of Fiscal Year 2012, the fund had excess uncommitted reserves of more than $11.3 million, the highest amount of excess uncommitted reserves of any cash fund in the State subject to the requirement."

In the wake of the report, anti-cannabis group Smart Colorado issued a statement advocating the reserves be used for education, research and prevention, saying, "Let's put the future of our state and the health and well being of our kids and communities ahead of the profit making of a few."

Keef crumbs

• The Denver-based CEO of weedmaps.com wants to bring cannabis to market — farmers markets, actually. According to Boulder's Daily Camera, Justin Hartfield thinks the college town is just the place to try public retail. However, as the paper quotes attorney Jeff Gard as saying, "You're not going to be able to buy weed off the street. That's drug dealing."

• The marijuana industry's banking woes got some attention last week when U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., introduced the "Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act of 2013." The bill would protect a variety of banking products from negative federal repercussions for dealing with marijuana businesses.

— Bryce Crawford

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