DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s auditor recently released a performance audit that revealed the state is not meeting its goals in marijuana enforcement.

The report from the Office of the State Auditor states that the Marijuana Enforcement Division “could improve its processes for prioritizing retail marijuana store inspections, taking enforcement action when investigations identify evidence that marijuana laws and rules may have been violated, and procuring its seed-to-sale marijuana inventory tracking system.”

According to the report, the division responsible for making sure marijuana is not sold to children or threatening public safety is not doing its job up to par.

Cannabis inspection failures

The division’s policy states that it will strive to inspect all marijuana retailers within one year of licensure, but according to the report, 40 out of 112 newly licensed marijuana retailers, or 36%, were not inspected within one year of the retailer’s license approval between 2019 and 2022.

Additionally, the Marijuana Enforcement Division did not inspect some businesses that met risk factors during that same period of time.

On a list of 567 licensed marijuana retailers that had not been inspected in the last 2 years, the enforcement division did not inspect 182. Of those uninspected retailers, 75 had never been inspected, according to the auditor’s report.

Inconsistencies in marijuana enforcement

From 2019 to 2022, 629 retailers appeared on at least one monthly underage compliance check, but the age checks were only completed for 554. 

This means the enforcement division did not complete an underage compliance check for 75 marijuana retailers that were identified as a priority due to risk.

Furthermore, of the retailers that were inspected for underage compliance, not all violations related to underage sales were cited.

Citations and disciplinary action

According to the report, seven stores were cited for selling marijuana to an underaged individual, but not all of those citations covered all of the regulatory requirements.

A graph in the Marijuana Enforcement Division performance audit shows that citations related to underage sales were inconsistent. (Colorado Office of the State Auditor)

Six of the seven were also cited for failing to verify a customer’s age, five were cited for allowing an underage individual into the restricted area where products are sold, and three were cited for actually giving marijuana to a customer without valid identification.

“Typically, underage marijuana sales should be a violation of each of these regulatory requirements,” the report states.

The enforcement division did not pursue disciplinary action for 23 out of a sample of 44 violations of marijuana rules and laws that affect public safety, according to the audit.

Looking ahead

The audit included six recommendations that would help improve the enforcement division’s regulation practices.

The division agreed with each recommendation and agreed that more detailed documentation of inspections is in order.