Jared Polis, Democratic state legislature championing changes to marijuana industry
Special to The Colorado Sun
The 2019 legislative session may one day be remembered as a turning point for the marijuana industry in Colorado — the moment it came to be viewed not as a challenge to be controlled, but as an opportunity to be embraced.
Cannabis advocates and critics alike largely attribute the shift to the man in the governor’s office, Democrat Jared Polis, who promised on the campaign trail to be an “unwavering champion” for the industry.
Polis wasted no time making good on that pledge, swiftly signing into law one measure that his predecessor vetoed. And now, with just a week left in the 120-day legislative session, lawmakers are advancing bills to allow more ailments qualify for medical marijuana treatment, permit home delivery of pot and let marijauna be smoked socially in “hospitality establishments” that would be similar to bars but without the booze.
The efforts are part of the broader effort to expand the availability of marijuana and where it can be consumed, relax business regulations and allow the industry to tap into investment capital that was previously inaccessible.
Observers say Polis’ approach to cannabis has been a major departure from that of former Gov. John Hickenlooper, who opposed legalizing the drug in Amendment 64 and only reluctantly implemented the will of voters.
“The previous administration did not believe that cannabis — either recreational, medical or hemp — was a priority for economic development and growth,” said Christian Sederberg, a prominent marijuana industry attorney in Denver. “This new administration absolutely sees it that way.”
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