Medical marijuana dispensaries continue to do business in Colorado even though none have officially been licensed.
7NEWS has learned that since the state won't officially approve licenses until July 1, enforcement officers can't tell just by looking at a storefront which dispensaries are legit and which ones shouldn't be selling medical marijuana at all.
"Is it possible there are dispensaries out there that should not be dispensing medical marijuana?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.
"There's a possibility that there are people out there that did not make application with us, that have an open storefront that are doing it illegally," said Dan Hartman, director of the newly formed state medical marijuana enforcement division.
7NEWS wanted to know whose responsibility it was to monitor illegal medical marijuana dispensaries.
Hartman said if people have a concern about a specific storefront or if police check on a specific business, the enforcement division can check on its status. The state has a list of businesses that have properly applied for a state license.
"They can start weeding out, so to speak, those dispensaries that didn't apply with us," said Hartman.
The city of Longmont shut down "Mother Greens" two weeks ago for code violations. According to the city, it had a business license to be a wellness center, but not sell medical marijuana. The business was closed because code enforcement officers found the building permit process was never completed properly. A code enforcement officer told 7NEWS if it was discovered that illegal activity was taking place at the business, criminal charges could be filed.
7NEWS called the phone number associated with "Mother Greens" and reach a man named Mike.
"Are you guys still open?" asked Zelinger.
"We're not right now, the city kind of shut us down at the moment, so we got to figure out what licensing they said that we don't have put together and then we'll be back in business," said Mike.
"My name's Marshall Zelinger from 7NEWS, and I've checked through the state's application list and I don't see you guys on there," said Zelinger.
"OK," said Mike.
"Were you legitimately selling medical marijuana?" asked Zelinger.
"Yes," said Mike.
"Did you apply with Longmont and with the state of Colorado?" asked Zelinger.
That's when Mike hung up.
"If I don't see 'Mother Greens'' name on the (state application) database
, should they have been dispensing medical marijuana, period?" asked Zelinger.
"I believe that everyone that has put an application in is on that list, so if they're not on that list or that application has not been filed, then no, they probably should not have," said Hartman.
The state legislature passed a bill last year that required medical marijuana businesses to meet three criteria. By July 1, they had to apply for a local or city license. By Aug. 1, they had to apply for a state license. By Sept. 1, they had to provide proof that at least 70 percent of the marijuana they sell is self-grown.
7NEWS wanted to know why no licenses had been granted nearly seven months after the last deadline.
Hartman said the application fees from the state licenses went to pay for the new enforcement division. From there, staff had to be hired and trained, so that background checks and inspections could be conducted.
"Should people be concerned that there are multiple storefronts illegally dispensing medical marijuana?" asked Zelinger.
"I don't think so," said Hartman. "I think most of the people went through the process."
According to the state's medical marijuana enforcement division, 727 applications are pending approval, while 91 have initially been denied. The reasons for denial range from criminal history discovered in the background check to incorrect information on the application.
The state collected $8.3 million in medical marijuana application fees. Even if the business is denied a license, the money stays with the state. The money pays for the staff and operations of the medical marijuana enforcement division.
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