The photo seen here isn't a screen capture from the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
No, these boxes contain medical marijuana business applications that have been gathering dust up until now. And I was invited along to watch the first of them get brushed off.
Last week, we told you that nearly 200 MMJ business aps were sitting in limbo at the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division offices, waiting for Denver officials to view them, verify the information and sign off on them. At the time, Denver officials weren't sure when they would even begin looking at them. But yesterday, Denver office of Excise and Licenses director Tom Downey and his staff trekked across town to the MMED to begin processing the boxes of information.
For legal reasons, I wasn't allowed to review any of the applications, photograph any of the information or even touch the boxes (seriously). Most dispensary files looked as thick as your average paperback novel, though some were closer to unabridged-English-dictionary size. They were typically held together by thick rubber bands.
The staff divided up the files using color tabs to differentiate dispensaries with just a grow, dispensaries with a grow and a marijuana-product (MIP) license, and stand-alone MIPs. Downey said the staff will now start the process of making sure the dispensaries, grows and MIPS meet city zoning laws as well as to verify they met all deadlines for applying. However, one setback to that has been the fee structure.
Currently, a shop that has applied for a Medical marijuana center (MMC), a grow and an MIP all in one location would still have to pay three separate licensing fees to the city. A bill currently going through council would require only one application fee. Downey says that if his folks have collected fees from dispensaries now, they may run up against the issue of having to refund money later -- something that's not in the statutes and would cost the state a lot of money to process the refunds.
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For the few standalone MIP manufacturers, multiple fees won't be an issue, and Downey says his staff will be moving forward with processing those this month. That should provide time for the new city regulations to shake out while still affording them the opportunity to chip away at the mountain of paperwork. However, he still didn't have a timeline for when all the other chores could be completed.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Medical marijuana licensing more liberal in Denver than in Boulder?"