As of three months ago, the Marijuana Enforcement Division (M.E.D.) no longer provides regulation advice to cannabis growth and sales businesses. Prior to this change, the M.E.D. would answer questions from private cannabis growth and sales businesses. Now, however, the M.E.D. will only recite state statutes in response to inquiries from cannabis business professionals. Sam Fortune, an Evolutionz compliance expert, describes the issue at hand: “The M.E.D. will no longer discuss the answer to questions outside of the context of the statutes that are posed to them; instead they are only allowed to cite the information directly out of the statutes.” The M.E.D. can only recite regulatory statutes word for word. The M.E.D. cannot provide advice.
OK, so who is affected by this change in policy? Unfortunately, as Sam points out, “This change affects all licensed business holders of all license types.”
That’s a major concern for cannabis-industry businesses. With cannabis compliance constantly shifting, and regulations listed in dense legal terminology, business owners are left in the dark. How bad is the issue? Well, unless you’re a lawyer, you’ll likely be lost in the legal jargon that’s strewn like a complex web throughout state statutes. Let’s take just one look at a sample of the convoluted text you’ll find in any given statute (bare with us, these statutes are written with words that are far from layman’s terms):
In the revised Colorado statute C.R.S. 25-5-415 (which, by the way, was most recently changed in November of 2016), the state of Colorado defines misbranded products as such:
“(1) A drug or device shall be deemed to be misbranded: (a) If its labeling is false or misleading in any particular; (b) If its labeling or packaging fails to conform with the requirements of section 25-5-419 [et cetera…].”
Take note, this list continues for about 2,000 words. On top of that, there are numerous subsections to this statute, including section 25-5-419, listed above. This particular subsection continues:
“(1) All labels of consumer commodities, as defined in section 25-5-402 (4), shall conform with the requirements for the declaration of net quantity of contents of the federal “Fair Packaging and Labeling Act” (15 U.S.C. sec. 1453) and the regulations promulgated pursuant thereto; but consumer commodities exempted from such requirements of the federal “Fair Packaging and Labeling Act” (15 U.S.C. secs. 1451-1461) shall also be exempt from this subsection (1). [et cetera…].”
Subsection 25-5-419 alone includes over 650 words, and it reroutes to two other subsections; beyond that, it also sites 15 U.S.C. secs. 1453, 1451-1461, concerning federal law. What a mess!
In short, statutes, as well as the state and federal regulations surrounding them, are a proverbial rabbit hole. It’s extremely difficult to navigate Colorado cannabis laws and regulations, especially when they’re constantly changing. And, since the M.E.D. has changed its policy on providing advice to cannabis-industry businesses, business operators are forced to navigate legal jargon on their own in order to keep their operations above board.
Let’s examine a common question that the M.E.D. might encounter: A business operator might ask, “Can we keep the keys to our surveillance equipment in a safe if people who should not have access to the surveillance equipment will have access to the keys?”
The M.E.D. will respond, citing R306 (A)(2): “All video surveillance records and recordings must be stored in a secure area that is only accessible to a Licensee’s management staff.” In other words, the M.E.D. tells us: No, you cannot make the keys accessible to non-management staff. The keys must “only [be] accessible to a Licensee’s management staff.” However, since the change in M.E.D. policy, the M.E.D. won’t offer up any solutions to this problem (which they had done in the past). Instead, operators often guess at what’s legal and what’s not.
Now, it gets worse if you’re a cannabis business operator… Since the M.E.D. polices cannabis regulations, they can audit license holders who ask questions surrounding cannabis policies—they can audit any licensed cannabis sales and growth business at any time. If a business approaches the M.E.D. to inquire whether or not they’re disposing of excess cannabis properly, that could be a red flag to the M.E.D. Thus, the M.E.D. has good reason to audit the company, and the inquirer (who was striving to operate within the law) could potentially be issued a fine, loss of license, and/or jail time because they unknowingly broke the law…
So, to say the least, there’s a gap between cannabis business owners and the government entity which polices their operations. Which begs the question: What’s the solution? How do cannabis-industry business operators properly interpret the law to operate within current regulations? The answer:
Cannabis regulation consultation.
Fortunately for business owners, there are resources. Evolutionz, as a cannabis-regulation consultant firm, fills a unique niche that bridges the recent gap between the M.E.D. and cannabis businesses. Since Evolutionz is a third-party business that does not hold any cannabis growth and sales licenses, Evolutionz can attain more-detailed, simplified information from the M.E.D. And, as a third-party cannabis consulting firm, Evolutionz can disperse regulation advice to licensed cannabis businesses which grow and sell marijuana. In short, Evolutionz serves as a conduit between cannabis-industry professionals and the M.E.D.
Evolutionz’ Cannabis-Industry Business Consulting
If you’re in the dark about the shifting, convoluted regulations that surround cannabis growth and sales, Evolutionz can shine a light on the law. When you have questions about state rules and regulations, contact us—not the M.E.D.; you could be placing your business at risk of an unnecessary audit. We provide real-time advice with up-to-date information on the ever-changing regulations that surround cannabis growth and sales. Take advantage of our cannabis compliance notifications, and partner with Evolutionz for unmatched compliance assessments, reporting, and resources. Learn more about our cannabis-industry business compliance services.