Marijuana

Marijuana Enforcement Division Director Moving On

Former Marijuana Enforcement Division director Jim Burack.
Former Marijuana Enforcement Division director Jim Burack. Colorado Department of Revenue
The director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, the regulatory watchdog of the state's legal pot industry, is moving on.

A March 31 announcement from the department informed marijuana business owners that MED director Jim Burack, nicknamed Mr. MED by his office (just kidding, only we call him that), was stepping down after Friday, April 2. No reason was given for Burack's resignation, although MED spokesman Scott Carney says his departure wasn't quite as sudden as the announcement implied: Burack had informed his staff of his resignation during a March 23 staff meeting.

"Jim has been a tremendous asset to MED, demonstrated by his contributions to the continued development of the nation’s first adult-use program for regulated marijuana, his work to enhance the division’s collaborative engagement with stakeholders and his focus on building a diverse team dedicated to public service, transparency, collaboration and problem solving," writes Cory Amend, senior director of the Department of Revenue's Specialized Business Group, which oversees the MED. "He also played a key role in formalizing regular information-sharing between states with regulated frameworks, which has led to the formation of the Cannabis Regulators Association (CannRA), now with 27 member states."

According to Amend, MED deputy director Dominique Mendiola will serve as interim director until the position is filled permanently. In 2018, Mendiola served as former governor John Hickenlooper's director of marijuana coordination.

Burack was the MED director for over five years; he'd worked for the state Department of Revenue since 2014. A former Westminster police officer who served as police chief in Milliken, Burack has also been a military prosecutor and the MED's chief of investigation. During his time directing the MED, the department implemented regulations for marijuana delivery, hospitality and numerous short-term rules in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Burack hasn't responded to our request for comment about his plans, but we talked with him in 2018 about his experience as MED director.

"I think it's fair to say I've been an up-close-and-personal witness to the evolution and maturation of the marijuana industry over the last half-decade, and my observation is that the industry has become generally more compliant over time," Burack said at the time. "While we have certainly encountered and addressed instances of serious illegal conduct in the regulated space, we have also witnessed the industry attracting skilled and experienced business owners and operators, perhaps due to the dynamism, opportunity for innovation and potential for growth in the space."
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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 westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell