MJBizMag April 2023 - 42

What Law Enforcement Wants You to Know
View From the Top
Colorado regulator shares communication strategy and main concerns
for marijuana companies
By Omar Sacirbey
A
ttorney Dominique Mendiola
has served with the Colorado
Department of Revenue's
Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED)
since 2014, first as deputy director of
policy, licensing and communications,
and for the past two years as the
agency's senior director.
In 2018, then-Gov. John
Hickenlooper appointed Mendiola-a
former civil litigator in Colorado
and Texas-as the state's director
of marijuana coordination, where
she oversaw the implementation of
cannabis laws and provided policy
guidance.
During that time, she's navigated
MED through rule changes and
industry evolution while keeping
an open dialogue with cannabis
businesses to help them navigate the
changes successfully.
Mendiola shared her insights with
MJBizMagazine about what regulators
want from the cannabis companies
they oversee.
What are the MED's biggest
focuses and challenges right
now?
Dominique Mendiola: From an
investigations perspective, MED's two
most prominent focuses are preventing
youth access and mitigating productand
consumer-safety concerns.
In preventing youth access, we focus
on underage compliance checks and
other nonqualified sales transaction
checks. We also investigate businesses
that may indicate higher risk fac42
April 2023 | MJBizMagazine
tors for diversion based on inventory-tracking
data and/or complaints
received by the division.
We prioritize reports of adverse
health events and indicators
of noncompliance with testing
regulations.
For underage compliance checks,
MED investigators partner with
underage operatives using their real
IDs to attempt to purchase marijuana
from a legal business. In 2022, MED
conducted 396 compliance checks with
five fails, for an overall compliance
rate of 99%. There have been no failed
checks so far in 2023.
What are the biggest concerns
you hear from marijuana
businesses?
Mendiola: We are tracking an increase
in burglaries among licensees, primarily
medical and retail stores in recent
years, in addition to marijuana business
employees being a target for fraud.
We also issue industry bulletins that
include fraud alerts and compliance
tools.
What does a constructive relationship
between regulators and
marijuana businesses look like?
Mendiola: At MED, we have worked
hard to establish constructive
relationships with our stakeholders.
Some great examples include:
* Our partnership with licensees
when the industry was a target
of fraud. After issuing a fraud
bulletin and then conducting a
focused educational outreach
effort across the state, we received
many reports that employees
identified attempted frauds, did
not fall for it and contacted MED to
report it.
* Another example is establishing
emergency rules during the early
days of COVID. The questions
posed by industry at the start
of the pandemic helped MED
understand operational challenges
that informed compliance tools
(bulletins and compliance tips)
in the form of Frequently Asked
Questions to support compliance
efforts.
* When we identify product-safety
issues, we will leverage Metrc
to help licensees identify and
ultimately recall downstream
products in an effective manner.
Additionally, the MED-led
Metrc User Group is focused
on enhancements to the Metrc
system to improve compliance
and create efficiencies for
licensees. This group includes
Metrc representatives, regulators,
licensees and third-party
representatives.
What are the most common
compliance mistakes that
cannabis businesses make?
Mendiola: Our most commonly
observed violations are related to
inventory tracking and books and
records, which are often connected to
inventory tracking.

MJBizMag April 2023

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