Changes in 2023 to Regulated Marijuana Rules

Breaking down the Changes to Colorado Regulated Marijuana Rules for 2023

So, You Want me to Tell You Another Story?

Welcome back, my friends, and happy New Year! 2023 has brought us another round of changes in Marijuana legislation and rule-making for Colorado Regulated Marijuana. Although the MED provided us with two Industry Bulletins related to these changes, many more modifications in the rulebook must be explicitly noted. Any responsible business owner needs to be confident in their knowledge of the regulations they face, so we should go over those too.

The Definition of “Material Change”

Most of the 493-page rulebook for Colorado Regulated Marijuana depends heavily on its definition of terms. There is one critical change made of which everyone should be aware.

  • The definition of “Material Change” as it relates to modifications of business operations has been made much more robust and now reads: “a change that the Licensee makes to their product’s design, cultivation process, or manufacturing process that a Licensee knows, or should reasonably know, could affect the product’s quality or ability to comply with the requirements set forth in these Rules including, but not limited to, intended use, testing, and product safety. This includes any change that would require a substantive revision to a Regulated Marijuana Business’s standard operating procedures. See Rule 4-120(F)(1) for additional examples of Material Change.”

While the latter is self-evident, the former deserves some interpretation. At face value, it appears the MED is seeking to clarify that procedural changes affecting any part of a Licensee’s operations for which there exists an SOP or process guideline as required by the rules will mandate a “Material Change” notice. If we dig further into 4-120, we see that other clear definitions have been added for Reduced Testing Allowance timeframes, as well as making clear that Licensee must conduct the monthly mandatory production batch test for all product types and variations for which an allowance exists.

Specific Rule Changes

Electronic Record Keeping

One of the most significant benefits of the “minor” changes made in 2023 is allowing all required documents to be in digital format. Furthermore, digital documents that are accessible from but not physically stored at a licensed premises satisfy the “On-Premises” requirements. I can hear the world’s collective forests breathing a sigh of relief.

Application to Change Mobile Premises

Those few of you operating Licensed Mobile Premises will be glad to hear you can now apply for a change of mobile premises without needing an entirely new license in the event of vehicle malfunctions or replacements.

Additional allowances for Past Criminal Activity

More citizens who fall on the wrong side of the law for what is now considered acceptable commerce will be welcomed into the fold moving forward. Led by efforts of the Colorado House of Representatives and an order of Governor Polis, those who have convictions in other jurisdictions of Marijuana offenses that would be legal here are no longer prohibited from participation in the industry. In addition, minors charged within Colorado for similar crimes will not have them considered against their application for suitability.

Additional Security Measures for Exterior Ingress Limited Access Area

If a Licensee’s Limited Acess Area is only accessible from the exterior of the premises, new rules now dictate how all marijuana products must be moved. The movement must be by a person holding a valid owner or employee license, who must be an employee of the business. The marijuana or products must be in a sealed, opaque container and remain on video surveillance. The person moving the marijuana or products must not enter any property not controlled by the Licensee and may not use a self-propelled vehicle designed for use on public highways or a low-speed electric vehicle.

Consolidation of Records Requirements into Rule 3-905

In addition to the new digital records allowance, rule 3-905 has been overhauled to include all the references throughout the rules that add documentation requirements. These two changes should make for a massive reduction in administrative overhead for everyday operations.

No Sticker Label Stacking!

This minor change could be a massive headache for all Marijuana Storefronts. Rule 3-1010 (B) (7), which covers “Unobstructive and Conspicuous” labeling, had the small but notable addition of: “and permanently hidden from view.” To My mind, affixing a required label on top of another, for example, the point of sale sticker to a wax container in a way that covers any of the other labeling needed, could be considered a violation.

Whole Wet Plant Testing

Although it wasn’t mentioned in any bulletin or advisory, failure to complete wet whole plant testing under rule 4-121 is now considered a Violation Affecting Public Safety and will cost you your license.

SOP Training for Licensed Employees

Another sneaky inclusion is the new rule section 5-115 (B.5) (1), which now mandates training for all licensed employees performing tasks for which the MED rules require a Standard Operating Procedure or one the Licensee has created themselves. The training must, at a minimum, provide the licensed employee with a copy of the SOP. I highly recommend Licensees go further with orientation, direct training, and document the procedure.

Testing Facility License Violations

In addition to numerous testing changes and clarifications I will outline in a later article, the MED has now made all rules sections related to Marijuana Testing Facilities to include the provision “Violations of this section may be considered Violations Affecting Public Safety.”

Stay Alert and Informed to Stay On Top

We all know the regulated marijuana market in Colorado is contracting, and when outside economic factors cause further stress, it can make us all long for the good old days. However, to stay competitive, regulated marijuana Licensees must remain vigilant and adapt to these changes. We are still building the airplane in flight here, and the rest of the world’s regulated marijuana systems are watching us more closely now than ever. If your marijuana business is ready to address these issues and prepare for the next decade of Colorado Marijuana, call us!

more insights