State regulators sought to make their presence known Wednesday — the first day of recreational pot sales in Colorado — sending investigators across the state and patching together a makeshift system to ensure that inventory is being tracked as required.
Barbara Brohl, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, which includes the Marijuana Enforcement Division, promised stronger regulatory oversight that wasn’t always possible with medical marijuana because of past budget shortfalls.
“We’re going to be a lot more engaged, and we’re going to be a lot more of the face of this regulatory system,” Brohl said during a visit to the Medicine Man recreational store, in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood.
About 10 criminal investigators from the Marijuana Enforcement Division fanned out across the state Wednesday to carry out “cursory checks” to make sure businesses were complying with rules and regulations, said chief investigator Lewis Koski. He said investigators were in the Denver area and in Pueblo and on the Western Slope.
Koski said one thing investigators are watching is more stringent labeling requirements on edible marijuana products, which must clearly state they are retail products that contain marijuana.
The state has struggled to get its long-promised Marijuana Inventory Tracking System, or MITS, in place for the opening of recreational pot shops.
The division blamed bad weather and holiday-shipping logjams for the delayed delivery of hundreds of thousands of radio-frequency identification tags that businesses must use to track product from seed to sale.
Brohl reported progress on Wednesday, saying all but 10 recreational marijuana businesses have tagged all their inventory and put it into the system. She said more than 2 million tags have been shipped and received.
In the meantime, the remaining 10 recreational shops have agreed to use an “alternative method” of tracking and should be on MITS in the next few days, she said.
“Everybody really wants to do a good job,” she said. “They want to comply because they understand also the onus of noncompliance.”
On the whole, Brohl said, “We have done everything we could do. We have been doing this in a really thoughtful manner. We really tried to balance the needs of the public with the needs of the industry.”