The so-called Denver Medical Marijuana Workgroup meets today for the second time in two months. But despite its name, which has caused some confusion in the medical marijuana community, the group hasn't been charged with any actual work and isn't a regulatory committee in any way.
Instead, the meetings -- which are brainchild of Tom Downey, director of Excise and Licensing for the City of Denver -- are more like a lightly skunk-scented town hall meeting with no real agenda to follow.
Downey took his position earlier this year amid piles of marijuana paperwork and questions from all sides. The Workgroup is his way of getting both city and state officials together with medical marijuana business owners to informally hash issues out and keep things transparent. So far, there's only been one meeting, but in Downey's opinion, it was a success.
Not everyone agreed. Twirling Hippy Confections owner Jessica LeRoux said last month that the meeting was an incestuous mix of Medical Marijuana Industry Group members, lobbyists and elected officials. "They didn't talk about anything," she told us. "The questions that were asked were softball questions, and the answers were essentially endorsing that you turn to the members of MMIG for help. I saw it as the city and state stroking MMIG members and vice-versa."
For the most part, the get-together, emceed by Matt Cook, the former head of medical marijuana for the Department of Revenue, focused on Denver's slow pace of getting applications processed, as well as the inability for MMJ business owners to transfer licenses within the city.
Currently, dispensary owners in Denver are in a catch-22. Although the state allows business licenses to be transferred, Denver city laws forbid it. The only way for a shop to transfer its license or move to a new location in the city is to apply for a new license, which state law prohibits until after July 1, 2012.
Since the September meeting, however, both problems seem to have been addressed in one way or another.
According to a press release from the aforementioned Medical Marijuana Industry Group earlier this week, the city and state will be presenting first Denver dispensary licenses at the meeting later today.
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As for the licensing transfers: Denver City Council will be discussing the issue today at 1:30 p.m. in the workforce-and-sustainability committee meeting over at the City and County Building. The proposed changes would allow license transfers, thereby opening the door for owners to buy and sell existing MMCs, grows and MIPS in the City of Denver.
The Medical Marijuana Workgroup meets today at 3:30 p.m. in atrium of the Wellington Webb Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue.
Update, October 27: William Breathes's account of the Workgroup get-together can be found by clicking here: "Medical Marijuana Workgroup's dull meeting highlighted by awarding of first MMC license."
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Health department registry stats show 5 percent decline in red cards."