Oops. About nine months into its existence, the Cannabis Control Commission on Tuesday apologized for and began to correct its most public mistake yet — its inadvertent approval of 10 priority certification applications that were supposed to be denied.
The CCC has been churning through applications from prospective marijuana businesses seeking to have their license applications reviewed on an expedited basis, but Executive Director Shawn Collins told the commission that 10 of the 146 applications it has approved were actually meant to be rejected.
"Upon further review, we've identified a number of applicants that had previously been included in a batch for approval that, based on a transcription error, should have been in fact in a batch for denial," Collins told the CCC. He added, "It is unfortunate and we will absolutely be in touch with each of those applicants to identify this error that did occur."
Collins said the CCC's staff reviewed the applications and recommended that the commission deny the requests for priority review. He said the error happened when staff was compiling batches of applications for approval and separate batches for denial. The error was identified late last week, Collins said.
"The staff actually reviewed these certification applications and made the correct recommendations," CCC Chairman Steven Hoffman said. "What happened is as each of the staff made recommendations we compiled a master list and recommendations from the staff that said deny ended up just getting put in the wrong column. But the actual analysis of the applications was done correctly."
The CCC voted Tuesday to rescind its priority review approval for the 10 applicants and asked its staff to review them once more before returning to next week's CCC meeting with fresh recommendations.
Based on the fact that the CCC staff initially recommended the applications be denied for not meeting the requirements for priority review, Hoffman said: "it's likely they're going to be denied."
The chairman said he expects the CCC will consider doing something for the 10 applicants who had been told they were approved for expedited review only to have that revoked. He said he wants to hear from other commissioners before suggesting anything the CCC might do.
"We're going to try to do everything we can to rectify the error. I feel badly for them," he said. "If they do get denied we haven't taken away anything that they should have gotten, but we still feel badly about the mistake and we'll do what we can to rectify and to make it up."
Hoffman said he is confident the same mistake will not happen when the CCC is reviewing applications for business licenses because those applications will be considered and voted upon individually, not in batches as the CCC processed priority review applications.
"The greatest comfort I have about why this will not happen in the licensing application (process) is that we're not doing batch analysis, we're going to do them one by one in front of the commission," he said.
Hoffman and other commissioners expressed embarrassment at the agency's mistake Tuesday but also said they are pleased that the error was caught and could be addressed.
"It is never comfortable when there are mistakes identified, but I do appreciate the staff going back and reviewing these and making sure that we are getting it right," Commissioner Britte McBride said.
Commissioner Shaleen Title addressed the CCC staff directly at Tuesday's meeting to thank them for their work and to let them know that part of building the CCC into a model state agency — as the CCC's mission statement aspires to — includes owning up to and correcting mistakes.
"I know that all of you have had full-time jobs that you've been doing in addition to this and you've been working really hard and I just want to say how proud I am that the staff caught this and brought it to our attention and dealt with it in a way that is the best for the public, even though it's uncomfortable for all of us," Title said. "This is exactly the kind of agency I want to be."