An investigative report by Denver, Colorado’s FOX 31 has found that 47 licensed cannabis dispensaries were caught breaking the law in 2016, leading to fines of at least $683,500 paid by shop owners and employees to the Department of Revenue Marijuana Enforcement Division with dozens more individuals losing their ability to work in the industry.
Many of the fines were the result of missing product and some businesses were found to have skirted the METRIC system – the seed-to-sale tracking technology required under the state’s law.
In an interview with reporters, a longtime dispensary employee using only his first name, Marcus, explained how some dispensary owners buck the system by listing some products in the METRIC system as too damaged to sell then sell it anyway. He said those products are usually sold “off the books” in order to thwart taxes.
“There are many ways to be able to manipulate these numbers and there’s no accountability,” Marcus said in the report. “A lot of people are getting paid poorly. A thousand-dollars or two-thousand-dollars just to shave a few grams here and there every day sounds like a real good idea.”
One company, Verde, paid a $40,000 fine to state regulators for improperly tracking some of its products. The department found that the company illegally “transferred a total of 1,024.8 grams of retail marijuana to … businesses which were not commonly owned or vertically aligned,” and claimed to have submitted nearly 95 grams to Gobi Analytical for testing “when they in fact had submitted 0.5 grams.”
Natural Selections, another cannabis company, was fined $75,000 for “failing to keep a transport manifests” and “failing to maintain accurate tracking records that accounted for, reconciled, and evidenced all inventory activity.”
Natural Selection Manager Taylor Vines argued that the company was scapegoats of over-active state regulators and that no products were actually missing.
“It’s actually not really the lack of use of (METRC),” Vines said. “It’s the lack of laws being black and white when it comes to METRC. It was an unfortunate situation that nobody in this industry could have avoided. They picked a new place to set precedent with.”