Yesterday I met with the Director of the Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division to answer the numerous questions I receive from the businesses we represent. The issues and the answers are set forth below:
1. Transfer of “banned” businesses to new jurisdictions:
Will there be continued operation of the transferred business based on prior 7/1/10 compliance? Yes, as long as there is local approval. Mr. Hartman recommends that the “banned business” request withdrawal of the application, along with an explanation of the banned/transfer reason. If the application is not withdrawn, it must be denied. Then, once the transfer and local approval are complete, you can request that the withdrawal of the application be rescinded. Once the rescinded application is reinstated, you may resume operation.
Also, if the banned/transferred business is sold before the transfer is complete, the business will not be able to operate. Mr. Hartman’s reasoning is that this provision is designed to help people who suffered local ban, not speculators who seek to profit from this unfortunate situation.
Further, both the MMC/MIP and OPC must be transferred, not the OPC only.
2. Security system and other ongoing compliance issues:
Are there approved providers? No, and there will not be any. Mr. Hartman states that the specifications are published and must be followed. As long as the specifications are followed, the provider of the service is not relevant. He did state that ADT appears to be ready to supply MMC/MIP/OPC security needs.
What if the system is not in place yet? This will be ok, as long was you have something in place and are under contract by 7/1/11to meet the specifications.
What if the system is not adequate, will there be a chance to correct it? Yes.
Does the security system have to have its own room? No, as long as the DVR(s) is locked in a secure box, bolted into the wall, floor, etc.
3. Point of Sale system:
Are there approved providers? No, but various companies are prepared for compliance, (MJ Freeway is one example). Mr. Hartman advised that “a big chief tablet” is ok, as long as you are tracking the necessary information. What the state requires will be published shortly and I will send out an email link to this information.
4. Employees deemed unacceptable by MMED:
Will there be an opportunity to terminate the employee if deemed unacceptable? Yes.
5. Ongoing construction, permits, etc.:
Does all construction work need to be completed by 7/1/11? No. You must be making a concerted effort to complete the work and permits should be requested by 7/1/11. However, if the local licensing authorities require the work to be completed and deny you for this reason, the state will not interfere and will enforce the denial.
6. License fees:
What are the licensing fees? These are not set, but MMCs will be less than the application fee, OPCs and MIPs will be more (perhaps even double). The license will be good for one year and will begin when the state notifies you that the fee is due and payable.
7. Key employees:
What is a key employee versus support? The answer is “case by case” and the answer will turn on how the employee is used, whether there is any contract with employee in place (key), and the businesses decision to classify someone as an “independent contractor” will have little or no bearing.
Also, payment of growers “by the pound” will be under serious scrutiny. If that is the arrangement, Mr. Hartman advises that this arrangement makes the grower an owner and the business will be required to revise its ownership structure, corporate documents, etc., accordingly. Mr. Hartman advises that you should pay the grower a salary and that bonuses are ok.
8. Business under denial/appeal, i.e., City of Boulder:
What is the state going to do about businesses locally denied (not banned), where an appeal is pending and the local licensing authority permits continued operation?
This is a tricky one. The state will honor the continued operation order until such time as the business prevails or appeals to the district court. An order from the district court permitting continued operation will be required. The license will be issued by the state as a “provisional license” and the state will await final outcome of the case.
Further, Mr. Hartman advised that he will be speaking with the City of Boulder to discuss this matter (and others). Stay tuned, as I expect this policy to change (for better or worse) once the situation between the City and the State is further clarified.
9. Transactions of businesses:
Do all of the various sales, mergers and transfers of MMBs have to be completed by 7/1/11? No. However, be reminded that any transfer requires (1) local approval; (2) state approval, including a meeting with the parties with MMED before the sale/merger/transfer occurs. Simply put, you need MMED’s blessing before the transaction can occur.
10. Sales below cost/free:
Does the “sales below cost or for free” provisions of HB1043 preclude the incentive programs, i.e. “buy one get one, free pre-rolled,” etc.? No, and there will be new rules developed in connection with the industry to help clarify this situation.
However, Mr. Hartman advised that MMED will take a very dim view of businesses “flooding” the market with cheap meds to drive out other businesses. Beware.
11. Independent contractors, i.e., trimmers, growers, etc.
What do independent contractors, vendors, etc., need to file with MMED? Everyone needs some sort of license to handle meds. If you are an employee, the employee application needs to be completed. If you are a vendor, the vendor application.
If you are an independent contractor, i.e., trimmer, etc., you need to complete an occupational license application. It is unclear what this means. If you fall into this category, we can schedule a meeting with MMED to discuss your situation.
Again, the relationship between the individual and the MMB will be viewed by its substance, not what you call it. Be careful.
12. Contracts between MMC and MIP:
Is there an approved contract, recommended language or necessary inclusions for the contracts between MMCs and MIPs? No. The contract should deal with the amount paid for the trim, the weights to be delivered, the parties, etc. Also, be advised that the parties cannot pay “in product.”
13. Inventory and MIP sales:
Does the trim, etc., sold to MIPs count against allowable inventory, 70/30? Yes and no. If the MMC sells trim to the MIP, i.e., 10 lbs, and the MIP makes the infused product and provides all of the infused product to the MMC, then no. However, if the 10 lbs sold to the MIP is then used to make infused products sold to other MMCs, even if 1/2 of the infused product goes back to the selling MMC, then all 10 lbs. counts against the selling MMCs 70/30 inventory numbers. Be aware that this is somewhat different from prior information provided by MMED.
14. MIP issues, misc.:
Does the use of alcohol in infused products require a liquor license required? Not as far as MMED is concerned. However, Mr. Hartman advised that the Liquor board may have a very different view and a big problem with this. I suggest a candid discussion with the liquor board be had before proceeding further with alcohol infused product manufacturing.
Does the liquid weight versus MMJ weight count against an MMC’s allowable inventory? This was not a clear answer. In general, no. However, if the MIP product is clearly labeled “2 ounces, 1 gram, etc. MMJ in each product,” Mr. Hartman advises that he would have no choice but to count it against allowable inventory.
What about MIPs in jurisdictions with no MIP approval process, i.e., Fort Collins? If there is no local approval, there will be no state approval. Sorry to all the Fort Collins’ MIPs.
15. Expanded plant and ounce recommendations:
Is a MMC ok to honor the recommendation and incorporate patient center assignments of this variety into its allowable inventory? Yes.
Does the MMC have any duty to investigate the propriety of the recommendation? No.
However, Mr. Hartman advises that the expanded plant recommendations will be under great scrutiny by the Department of Health and that doctor recommendations patterns are likely to be tracked. In these cases, the doctors will be required to medically justify the recommendations. Be advised that this is going to be a big deal
If patient designates “self and MMC” can both the patient and MMC grow 6 plants? This answer was not clear. In general, yes, but it appears that this issue has not been considered by MMED and is likely to see revision in the near future.
16. Sales Taxes:
What is the form of monthly reporting to MMED? This will be handled by the sales tax folks, not the MMCs/MIPs. However, monthly, not quarterly payments are required.
Does a scale need to be attached and incorporated into the point of sale system?
Can someone own a % of both a MMC and a doctor referral business even if no $ is exchanged between MMC and the doctor referral business?
Mr. Hartman believes this is not appropriate. I am not sure if his opinion will be legally supported, since the only prohibition is payments from MMCs to doctors/doctor referral businesses.
Can investors receive a % of the profit?
Yes, but there are then deemed owners, not investors and must follow all of the MMC/MIP ownership rules (residency, felony rules, and local/state approval of their ownership).
Can existing MMC’s apply for new retail locations in 2011? No. New OPC locations in 2011? No.
How is the MMC going to verify patient center assignment? MMED and the Department of Health are working on this. For now, keep track yourself, including accurate records
What will MMED do about MMCs/MIPs currently in litigation between partners for pending licensees? Mr. Hartman will issue the license provided both parties are license eligible. So, if the litigation is between owners with felonies and owners without felonies, the license will be denied. The same is true for residents and non-residents. Mr. Hartman wants notice of the lawsuit and periodic status reports. He does not want copies of pleadings.