Just Like CA Is to Wine, CO Wants To Be to Marijuana…Once Federally Legal

ShutterstockProfessional / shutterstock.com
ShutterstockProfessional / shutterstock.com

Colorado’s Democratic Governor Jared Polis knows that the landscape for marijuana is changing. Inside the new state budget, he is trying to prepare for making CO the capital of cannabis across the country.

Many current users in the marketplace will make an argument for their home state. Others will simply default to the legendary Emerald Triangle in Humboldt County of northern California that put California on the map for cannabis in the 1960s and 70s.

Now Polis sees the numbers coming out of these states, and he wants CO to lock up their piece now.

To make that happen, he is calling for $5 million in marijuana revenue to go directly to supporting the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade’s Cannabis Business Office. Focusing on economic development as well as job growth within the industry, they help facilitate the growth of the industry from the inside out. With federal assistance unavailable, the state offers specialized programs to keep the growth and advancement of marijuana in Colorado as pristine as mountain spring water.

Additionally, he is requesting that $3 million be diverted to enacting policy change and funding for “enterprise zones” in economically depressed (ie poor) communities. Surprisingly not restricted to inner cities, this program could prove very beneficial to rural towns with little opportunity to get into major marijuana production. Coming in the form of tax credits, this can incentivize growers and major owners to invest in these communities, and with their higher patronage, they will return that money tenfold if the business is run properly.

Speaking with VS Strategies’ “Weed Wonks” podcast, Polis is giving the little men their voice in this massive industry. There, he outlined that this would not be a repeat of the 2021 one-time-only influx of money. Instead, he wants this program to continue and to see the people of CO able to prosper from these programs for eons to come.

He also acknowledged how much these can help but how it’s still not the same thing as being able to take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) codes. Especially the most frequently referred to as 280E. He called the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act a key in getting things going the right way but admitted CO has to have a major place at this moment.

“Colorado has kind of what you call a ‘first mover advantage’ in this space, where we were one of the first states [to legalize]. But you can never get complacent, and we want to continue to be a leader in the legal cannabis market. We need to continue to innovate because, obviously, many other states have caught up with where we are from a basic legalization of commercial and medical perspectives. That’s no longer as innovative as it was at the time when we did it.”

Generating about $2.5 billion in revenue, much of the money has gone to the state’s educational programs since recreational marijuana was introduced. He also sees how the landscape has changed since neighboring states like New Mexico went recreational as well. “It’s just been such a big part of our state’s success. I think part of the issue is, of course, more national competition now… And again, it’s really a matter of how we can continue to be a policy leader in safety regulations, preventing underage use, expedited licensing procedures, tax structures like making companies eligible for enterprise zones.”

He also knows far too well how the federal government works. After spending 10 years in Congress, the man has seen a lot. He knows that federal legalization, banking reform, and tax reform will take time. As the old saying goes, if you want something changed tomorrow, you better have started it two years ago.

“You bank each step and you go for the next one, rather than say it’s all or nothing and then you’re sitting there forever not getting anything. I think most of the community has come around, but a lot of folks you know they want this, they want this—and we all agree on those things. But we’ve got to get what’s right there in front of us: SAFE Banking Act, reclassification, 280E. I mean, let’s get these things done, and then we’ll start fighting again tomorrow on the next phase.”

Letting Colorado take the lead would be an incredibly intelligent move. They have set the gold standard for cannabis production in the US. Many states are turning to CO for help more than any other, both recreationally and medicinally.