State Adopts Emergency Pot Rules for MMJ Research Licenses

The new rules are effective immediately.
The new rules are effective immediately. Jacqueline Collins
The Colorado Department of Revenue instituted a round of emergency rule changes to the state marijuana code on Wednesday, December 27. According to the DOR announcement, the changes are effective immediately.

Nine Marijuana Enforcement Division regulations are affected, including application and licensing fees, licensee and employee privileges, and prohibited acts of licensees. The quick revisions relate to the implementation of HB 1367 and HB 1034, and are not part of additional rule changes set to take effect January 1.

"The purpose of the revisions to these rules on an emergency basis is twofold: First, to set the fee amounts of two new license types established under House Bill 17-1367, effective August 9, 2017," the announcement reads. "Second, to amend provisions contained in the Medical and Retail Rules 1700 Series related to Medical and Retail Marijuana Operator Licenses, including amendments to implement House Bill 17-1034."

HB 1367 created a state licensing program for medical marijuana research cultivation and development, and the bill became law before the DOR's Office of Budget and Financial Services could conduct a financial review to estimate how much application, license and renewal fees should cost. "Taking into account the Department's initial fee analysis, these emergency rules establish application fees, license fee, renewal fees and research project proposal fees for Licensed Research Businesses," the announcement reads. The fees could be adjusted as the DOR continues to analyze the program's fiscal ramifications, however.

Although HB 1367 was passed by the legislature and sent to the secretary of state by Governor John Hickenlooper, he never signed it because a word change in late amendments to sections 7 and 8 of the measure limited the MED's power to enforce contamination and potency rules. These rule changes do not affect that portion of the bill, because Hickenlooper abstained from signing the measure. His office plans to work with the bill's sponsors to present new legislation with corrected text during the 2018 legislative session.

HB 1034 was written to allow easier location changes for MMJ businesses, remediation of MMJ products that failed microbial testing and expanded MMJ business-to-business sales of infused products. It took effect after Hickenlooper signed it in March; most details related to the measure were ironed out during public MED stakeholder meetings in September that will be reflected in the January 1 rule changes.

But some items were "inadvertently excluded" from a five-day-notice provision required during rule changes, according to the DOR, so they were removed from the list and added to the December 27 alterations. These rule changes better align medical operating licensing procedures with the retail code and allow owners of marijuana operating licenses to have stakes in other licensed marijuana businesses; they also modify the licensure requirements for marijuana business owners and employees.

The State Licensing Authority will soon file a permanent rulemaking notice, which will include an opportunity for stakeholder and public input, according to the DOR. The emergency rules will expire after 120 days or when they are replaced by permanent rules. Find a summary of the emergency rules below and the full list at the MED rules page.

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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for
Contact: Thomas Mitchell