A grower checks marijuana plants at the cultivation facility for Denver infused product manufacturer Incredibles in August 2014. (Denver Post file)

Colorado info on marijuana businesses to go public

The Colorado agency charged with policing the cannabis industry is about to get more user-friendly.

The Marijuana Enforcement Division, which operates within the state Department of Revenue, is giving its website a significant overhaul, the division announced Tuesday. The project began in the fall and will make marijuana license data more readily available to the public. “This is a significant step in the evolution of MED’s commitment to transparency and providing information to the public,” said new division director Jim Burack.

The overhaul will roll out in four stages, the first of which — allowing users to search by individual license holders and licensed facilities — was implemented this week. Stage two will link business owners to their respective licensed facilities, which could be medical or recreational shops, grows or infused product manufacturers.

“They’re going to have access to the names, the license numbers, the status of the license, the expiration dates and whether the license was approved, revoked or denied,” said Will Lukela, the agent-in-charge of background investigations and licensing.

News of the website comes after a Denver Post investigation showed obtaining basic information about the state’s cannabis entrepreneurs was impossible without paying fees. The state’s pot-only privacy policy stood in contrast to what is available about owners of other state-licensed businesses.

Department of Revenue communications director Lynn Granger said the division had started its overhaul when The Post asked for information several months ago, but division officials chose not to comment on it.

“As communications director for the department, I receive eight to 10 media requests a day solely focused on marijuana,” Granger said. “There are so many media and (Colorado Open Records Act) requests as well, so we started this in the fall to be more proactive and put that information out so we can direct people to the site.”

Some industry leaders were disappointed Tuesday when they learned about the site’s new infrastructure from a journalist — not the state.

“If we were in a day and age where cannabis was descheduled in the United States and we were allowed interstate commerce and treated like any other commodity product, I wouldn’t have any concern with this information being public,” said Tyler Henson, a lobbyist and president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.

Henson’s primary concern is the facility search, which allows users to look up exact addresses for cannabis grows, called “optional premises cultivations” in MED-speak.

“It’s a road map to potentially nefarious criminals targeting my business,” Henson said. “The state is also giving the legal name of the individuals, so I can pull up all your social media information, find out where you live, see if you own a house or land — you can be putting families in jeopardy, as they might get targeted by criminals who, for some reason, think there’s loads of cannabis money sitting in somebody’s residence.”

This story was first published on DenverPost.com