At 7 a.m. today, a source tells Westword, approximately 200 medical marijuana industry employees hoping to get their license applications processed by the July 1 deadline were lined up outside the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division offices -- but around 140 of them were turned away. Why? The volume of applicants has overwhelmed the MMED, which is extending deadlines.
According to MMED spokeswoman Julie Postlethwait, applicants didn't exactly rush to tackle the licensing chore. "We only processed twelve applications in May," she says. "Everybody waited until the last minute. It's been overwhelming."
When the flood started, the MMED discovered its processing capacity topped out at about sixty applications per day. But many more people than that have been showing up, including workers from dispensaries all over the state who've been traveling to Denver, since planned regional offices are not yet open. And as Postlethwait notes, "We can't have someone driving four hours to Denver only to be turned away."
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The solution? MMED supervisors are now asking that applicants stop coming to the office until July 5 -- four days after the original deadline. Moreover, individuals who live outside the Denver area are being told to wait until regional offices planned for Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and Fruita, on the Western Slope, are open, and then apply at the one nearest them. There's no firm date for the offices' debut: "We've had some lease-negotiation delays," Postlethwait notes. But she expects they'll be up and running sometime this summer.
As for people in Denver, their deadline has been extended, too, but not by as much. Postlethwait says they'll have until the end of July to get through the process, which should move faster given that folks from elsewhere in Colorado won't be lined up as well.
This situation is far from ideal, but Postlethwait sees it as a reasonable compromise. "We don't have the resources to increase staff or equipment," she says. "So we're going to accommodate public safety and the needs of the industry as best we can."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division top cop Marco Vasquez once in narcotics bureau."