By John Ingold The Denver Post
Posted: 08/20/2013 06:04:14 PM MDT
Colorado regulators expect to have an online inventory-tracking system for marijuana shops up and running in October, providing, for the first time, an important tool for oversight of the state’s recreational and medical marijuana industries.
State Department of Revenue enforcement official Ron Kammerzell said the state will begin training employees of current medical-marijuana businesses on the new system in September and October. Kammerzell said the state will need to train between 2,000 and 3,000 people and will do so at locations across the state.
Kammerzell said existing medical-marijuana businesses will be transitioned onto the system — which will track marijuana plants through special radio-frequency tags — by December. The forthcoming recreational marijuana stores, which won’t open until January, will have to create accounts on the system before they will receive a license to operate, Kammerzell said.
That last requirement is among dozens being considered this week in first-of-their kind formal rulemaking hearings on rules for a recreational marijuana industry. On the first day of hearings on Tuesday, regulators took public comment on rules governing licensing fees, potency testing and the tracking system.
Written comments on the proposed rules will be accepted until Aug. 27.
Jessica LeRoux, who owns Twirling Hippy Confections, a maker of marijuana-infused pastries, said Tuesday she’s worried business owners won’t have enough time to get familiar with the tracking system before they’re expected to comply with it.
“We’ve not seen any preview of the system,” she said. “You will have to ask owners to go through training on an entire system that you guys aren’t even familiar with yet.”
Previous efforts at creating a comprehensive marijuana-tracking system for the stores — which can help regulators figure out if marijuana is being diverted into the black market — went unfulfilled. And, though officials have said the new system won’t quite provide seed-to-sale tracking, Kammerzell said it will be a critical part of regulatory efforts.
Overall, state officials plan to draw on lessons from their sometimes rocky regulation of medical-marijuana dispensaries to create clear and enforceable rules for recreational marijuana stores.
“We’ve got a lot of expertise in this state because of medical marijuana,” Kammerzell said. “It’s not just theoretical expertise. It’s practical expertise.”