Medical marijuana dispensary inspections -- and what about those discontinued DVRs?

State regulations of the medical marijuana industry went into effect on July 1 -- and that includes inspections of dispensaries by the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division. But how does the process work? We talked with a security pro who sat in on an inspection that was made for TV.

Char (first name only, please) is the owner of SecureCam, which specializes in security systems. To her knowledge, her business is the only one of its type to be recognized by MMED as a licensed vendor -- an expensive process, she concedes, but an important one, since workers must have MMED approval before they can enter secure areas of dispensaries. "After July 1, anybody who steps foot in there has to be a registered and licensed vendor, including plumbers, drywall hangers -- anyone," she says.

In recent weeks, Char received a call from a dispensary owner who had been contacted about an inspection at which a TV crew from 7News would be tagging along -- and he asked if she could be there, too, in case any questions came up about the security system. Since that's part of her service, she gladly agreed, showing up the next day at 11 a.m. for what had been scheduled as an 11:30 a.m. arrival -- and MMED inspectors, led by top cop Marco Vasquez were already on hand, along with the 7News staffers.

That's the first thing staffers should know about inspections, Char notes: "They show up early."

Shortly thereafter, Vasquez and his associates went over what Char calls "a specific, printed-out checklist." A copy of the list wasn't left with the owner, but MMED has provided centers with a document pointing out general areas to be examined; it's on view below.

Going over all the items on the list was time-consuming. Even though the center is quite small, and was in compliance across the board with only some tiny technical matters, the process took around an hour and a half, by Char's estimate. During the span, she asked MMED officers if the inspectors there would be permanently assigned to oversee the center and was told no. "That kind of surprised me," she concedes. "I really think to make everything consistent, there should be a consistent contact person, so they know the owner and the facility."

As for how often inspections will take place, Char says, "they didn't give us an exact deadline. We're kind of thinking they may show up once a year, but we just don't know."

These aren't the only MMED mysteries. According to Char, the division's regulations mandate general information about cameras, including angles, locations, which parts of a facility must be covered, and other details. "But they were very specific about the DVRs they're supposed to have -- and some of them are already being discontinued by the manufacturer," she says

In other words, some expensive machines just installed by licensed centers may already be obsolete.

She's also frustrated that MMED has yet to assemble a list of vendors licensed to operate in medical marijuana centers. "It costs the vendors money to do this -- $250 for vendor applications, and more for each key employee and support employee. But because MMED doesn't have a list, customers will have to go through every company in the phone book before they can find us." One MMED rep suggested that some companies might balk at being included on such a list, but she doesn't buy the argument: "Who wouldn't want to be on it after spending all that money?"

At this writing, the 7News piece about the inspection does not appear to have aired; at least, there's nothing on the station's website that resembles it. In the meantime, look below to see the aforementioned document about the focus of MMED inspections.

A. Security Requirement... 12 x12 signs Employees licensed Monitored Closed Circuit Security Alarm System. Commercial Grade Locks Video Surveillance system List of Licensed employees Clear View of POS & Patron

B. Infused Products Employees conform to hygenic practices prep areas, work stations kept clean cleansers, santizers, pesticides, clearly labeled

C. Location Diagram of Licensed Area * see classy-fieds if you need help with this. Approved changes to space approved change of trade name or address advertisement consistant w local laws, not misleading/false

D. Storage & Transportation storage warehouse permit (most of you wont need this) Products packed weighed inventoried on video prior to transport Transporter must be MMED licensed* and have Manifests... *note this does NOT include Kangaroo etc... Indication of best Route to destination

E. Product labeling products labeled and identified Edibles display state required warning label. Conform to banned chems & containers.

F. Waste Disposal Waste is stored & secured Waste rendered unusable, grind w non-consumable solid waste DIsposed of as solid waste at solid waste site and disposal facility.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana patient-fees comment period extended due to Health Dept. snafu."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts