City and County of Denver Marijuana Public Meeting Summary – Dec. 8th 2022
Robert Darrow, Inspector Supervisor of the DOR Excise and Licenses Investigations Department providing insight on the department’s “Marijuana Establishment Inspection Report,” which details what inspectors are looking for when performing inspections for licensing applicants. The list consists of topics such as City and State verifications, floor plans, safe storage, security measures, sanitation, waste management, product visibility, and signage. However, as Darrow explains, the list is not a catch all and that licensees can be enforced for more than what is on the actual inspection list.
Additional takeaways included Lieutenant Cass of the DFD focusing on secure storage, including ingress and egress paths, policies and procedures on equipment and storage in SOPs, in addition to sanitary practices. Lt. Cass continued to advise licensees to consult with design professionals to avoid non-compliance prior to any modifications or security features to the Licensed Premises. Common circumstances observed during inspections were basic Security features not matching diagrams and the blocking of ingress or egress paths. Examples observed during inspections involve licensees storing an abundance of inventory or dry material which can be considered loose and combustible material; thereby violating fire code. Lastly, Lt. Cass reminded the public meeting audience that the DFD promises to the Mayor’s office and City to keep up inspections and enforcement in 2023 – despite tough economic times, compliance must still take precedence in budgeting as fines and suspensions cost a ton more.
Following the DFD, Tim Allen of the DDPHE addressed requirements around adhering to the Denver Odor Control Plan (OCP) once approved by engineers, which requires specific documentation as well for compliance SOPs, maintenance plans, systems, and controls; including handling complaints and staff training. Allen continues to explain that OCPs include facility information such as business names (DBA), contact info of building owners and facility managers, facility type, hours of operation, Business File Number (BFN) from Denver and the state, and emergency contacts at a minimum. They will also request Facility Oder Emission Information such as detailed floor plans, equipment used for mitigation, and phases of operations in those work areas.
Odor mitigation Practices were emphasized as the most critical which detail administrative controls, management activities, staff training and documentation of training, maintenance records, engineering controls, and how to handle and record complaints. Furthermore, Allen detailed the most common reasons why an inspection may be prompted which include a complaint from the public or due to modifications of the Licensed Premises. Allen also detailed that the DDPHE will request a copy of the Licensees OCP, maintenance records, training logs, and complaint logs. Lastly, Allen explained that the failure to have equipment outlined in the OCP or functional could be a potential enforcement action, as well as the failure to have a copy of the plan and supporting documents. If your License needs assistance or your plan has changed, let us know before submitting new or revised plans to the City to ensure your compliance.
DDPHE continued with Jeremy Utley and Jessica Davis of the Public Health Investigation Division on Shelf Stability and Approved Source Updates. They mentioned emphasizing the prior Shelf Stability Affidavit introduced in early 2022 and its discontinuance as of Dec. 8th 2022. What this means is that businesses will no longer be required to submit applications to classify products as shelf stable. Utley continued to speak to enforcement around food safety, contamination, shelf stability, and hazardous health risks while Davis detailed Public Health Trends posing risk which include recalls and increased contamination in the market, operating in unapproved areas of the facility, adequate and accurate testing, and using non-approved additives including hemp material. All of this ahead of mandatory shelf stability testing at the MED level for all products (including flower) by 2024.
Lastly, the public meeting concluded with Daniel Raynor of Denver’s Office of Climate Action,Sustainability and Resiliency (CASR) detailing the sustainability issues around cannabis to meet net zero energy goals by 2040. Cannabis is a huge drain on energy resources and could be adding to the pressure to limit the number or operations of cannabis businesses. By December 1, 2023, there will be rules for reducing energy consumption with future deadlines to come. Two options mentioned during the meeting for small buildings (those that are 5,000 – 24,999 sq ft) to meet the Net Zero requirement include either certifying that a minimum of 90% of the lighting load is provided by LED lighting or that they have achieved an equivalent lighting power density to what 90% coverage of lighting load by LEDs would have resulted in. Finally, the other option would be to source 20% of energy needs from on-or-off site renewables.