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Published on Friday, January 23, 2015

The importance of cross collaboration and data collection in the regulation of marijuana

Last week AWC analyst Jane Wall traveled to Denver, CO to attend the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police Conference on Marijuana and its impacts on Public Health and Safety. For a general overview of the conference check out last week’s Bulletin article here.

The conference covered an array of topics, including sessions on the importance of sector-wide cross collaboration efforts and data collection in the regulation of recreational and medical marijuana. Several local municipalities were on hand to discuss why these are so important, specifically as they relate to prevention and education efforts.

Among the municipalities to present was Denver. Denver has proven itself to be a leader when it comes to its regulation of the marijuana markets since voter approval of medical marijuana in 2000 and recreational marijuana in 2012. Specifically, Denver has adopted various laws and ordinances, as well as established an internal city framework to coordinate, regulate and enforce laws. Denver has been successful in these efforts by:

  • Coordinating monthly marijuana team meetings;
  • Developing an operations dashboard;
  • Providing cross-trainings for inspectors;
  • Educating the industry regarding city processes and regulations;
  • Forming and hosting work groups on various topics; and
  • Tracking enforcement actions through a central location.
  • The development of an operations dashboard and tracking enforcement actions have proven to be critical for Denver, and the state of Colorado, particularly when it comes to data collection. Before the approval of recreational marijuana, Colorado, like Washington, did not have a marijuana-related database for tracking metrics like DUIs, hospital visits, juvenile use, etc. This lack of tracking has prevented the establishment of a baseline, creating many challenges. Presenters could not stress enough the importance of establishing a robust tracking system and baseline.

    Efforts are underway to create these in Colorado, and the collaboration involved in these efforts is impressive. Municipalities like Denver are working with the state to closely develop frameworks for data collection. The agencies and departments involved in these efforts include:

    • Community planning and development: zoning, permitting, licensing, public hearings;
    • Environmental health agencies;
    • Fire departments: inspections;
    • Police: enforcement, public safety, trainings;
    • Public health departments;
    • Education;
    • Department of Revenue;
    • Budget & Management Office;
    • Department of Criminal Justice;
    • Department of Transportation;
    • Marijuana Enforcement Division;
    • Governor’s Office;
    • Hospitals;
    • Researchers;
    • Nonprofits

    In addition to these efforts a comprehensive report was published by the Colorado Governor’s office in October 2014 to assess CO’s existing data management capabilities. The report identified a number of high priority recommendations and corresponding actions for the state to pursue in the immediate and near-term futures.

    This report, in conjunction with Colorado’s collaborative model, may prove especially useful to Washington and other states as we work to develop our own systems that will allow us to most efficiently regulate the medical and recreational marijuana industries and target investments in prevention, treatment and education campaigns.

Categories: Marijuana