On Sept. 25, 2015, members of the Denver police department and the Marijuana Enforcement Division conducted compliance checks on 30 Denver dispensaries. Out of the 30 dispensaries, seven were cited for selling marijuana to minors.
This is the first time a marijuana dispensary has failed a compliance check since legal marijuana sales began in 2014.
The dispensaries that failed the compliance check are as follows: The Herbal Cure, The Healing House, Pure Medical Dispensary, LaContes Clone Bar, Herbs 4 You, Mile High Green Cross and Higher Expectations. Seven individuals have been charged with selling marijuana to a minor, which is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Currently, there is no word on what kind of punishment, if any, dispensary owners will face for failing to pass the compliance check. However, dispensary owners could potentially face a license suspension, a $100,000 fine in lieu of a license suspension, or even license revocation.
“We are disappointed,” said MED Director Lewis Koski in a statement. “Up until now these compliance checks have been a bright spot for the industry. This recent check drops compliance to 92 percent.”
Koski went on to say that while there have been no repeat offenders, this latest check suggests a downward trend in compliance.
However, speaking with NBC 9 Denver, Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project said that this latest compliance check is not quite as alarming as some would suggest.
“Really this is how the system’s intended to work to make sure that people are asking for ID, and, in most cases, it keeps them out and to punishes those who fail to do that,” Tvert said. “Prior to the establishment of these stores and this system – every person selling marijuana failed to ask for ID. So what we’re seeing now is a massive improvement.”
Indeed, this compliance failure is less alarming when viewed in the broader context. As Denver Westword has pointed out, in 2006, 11 out of 21 Denver liquor stores and bars were cited for selling alcohol to minors.
Another compliance check in 2012 found nine out of 53 Denver liquor stores and bars selling alcohol to minors, or a compliance rate of 83 percent. Under this context, Denver’s 92 percent compliance is not quite so dire; however, appearances matter.
The marijuana industry is still in its infancy, and small failures like this will only increase industry scrutiny. Tyler Henson, president of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, told the Denver Post that this failure can’t happen again.
“Those dispensaries need to be held accountable,” Henson said. “Your job as an owner and operator is to ensure your employees are readily trained.”