Marijuana: Hardware failure results in lost medical marijuana licensee information

If it's not one thing, it's another for the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. Last year, MMED was forced to make big staff cuts, and it went six months without appointment availability. Then, earlier this year, the division received a terrible grade from the state auditor. The report, "State Oversight of Colorado's Medical Marijuana Industry Ineffective," found MMED guilty of improper money-management techniques and more.

Still, MMED's latest issue may not be entirely its fault.

Specifically, a hardware failure affected the Governor's Office of Information Technology (OIT) and one of the Department of Revenues (DOR) licensing systems. The failure resulted in the deletion of MMJ licensee files from April 2012 to the present, as well as gaming licensee files from June 2012 to November 2012.

According to DOR Communications Director Daria Serna, the gaming division lost about 2,177 files, "but as far as medical marijuana is concerned, we are still working to identify what exact info within each file needs to be resubmitted."

So basically any license approved during this time is up in the air, at least for now.

"It is important that we don't cause any disruption." Serna says. "We do realize our first priority is to our licensees and we want to make this as easy as possible. We understand this is no fault of their own."

Only back-up information vanished, and Serna is optimistic that the file losses, at least on the MMJ side, will almost take care of themselves. Since MMJ applications must be renewed every year and most dispensaries will be applying to become recreational stores in October, they will be resubmitting this information soon, and missing records can be filled in.

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"This [the loss of files] does not prevent DOR from conducting business, enforcing the law, or effectively regulating these industries," notes a press release from earlier this month. Likewise, it doesn't prevent licensees from doing business -- but those waiting for their application to be processed may be asked to fill out some information again for "record-keeping purposes."

This incident is similar to other recent MMED glitches. For example, the Denver Post reported that the division's computer database cannot do something as simple as differentiate between current and previous dispensary owners. Instead, a state employee must refer to the hard copy of documents that were filled out when dispensary owners applied for their license.

The DOR and OIT are working with an independent third party to assess the licensing systems "to ensure the integrity of those systems and prevent future loss of files, ensuring that the department can continue to service its customers and the citizens of Colorado."

Which means more money coming out of an already busted budget. Let's hope MMED can at least get one flaw sorted out in a timely manner.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Proposed $3.25 million Denver tax boost, $2 million Denver Health pot-ed program."

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