Last year, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law House Bill 1230 and House Bill 1234, to expand both cannabis hospitality and delivery, respectively, across the state.
A newly-formed task force in Denver, the epicenter of the state’s cannabis industry, held a series of meetings in May and June to discuss and debate how and whether to implement the licenses allowed by this legislation. Further, this task force is focused on how to put equity at the core of any further development of the state’s cannabis industry. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the meetings.)
As this task force prepares to share its recommendations with the Mayor, we wondered: who was in favor of these bills? And who was opposed? Cannabis Wire dug into lobbying filings, and this is what we found:
On both bills, there was support from the usual players, like Nuka Enterprises and Good Chemistry, both local and long time cannabis businesses. And opposition from some expected entities, like Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, and SMART, the main local anti-legalization group.
But the hospitality bill brought out some opposition that didn’t show up on delivery, as well as some noteworthy entities “monitoring.”
Opposed entities included, for example, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and the American Heart Association.
The AHA told Cannabis Wire that their opposition relates to clean air. “The American Heart Association is opposed to HB1230 due to the implications around secondhand smoke exposure. Complications related to cardiovascular disease have been associated with cannabis use and reported over the last three decades,” the AHA said.
For example, THC can lead to increased heart rate, which could be dangerous for those with underlying heart issues. However, they added that “Most of the cardiovascular effects diminish over the course of a few weeks and marijuana’s cardiovascular effects may not be associated with serious health problems for most young, healthy users.”
Entities listed as monitoring the legislation included, for example, Anheuser-Busch Inc, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Colorado Restaurant Association, and The Tavern League of Colorado.
While Anheuser-Busch Inc. did not respond to Cannabis Wire’s request for comment, Anheuser-Busch InBev partnered with Canadian cannabis company Tilray in 2018 to distribute CBD beverages. While that partnership has remained up north, competitor Molson Coors partnered with another Canadian cannabis company, Hexo, to release CBD beverages in Canada in 2019, and expanded that partnership this year to bring such beverages to Colorado.
When it comes to the interest of local restaurants and bars, Sonia Riggs, CEO of the Colorado Restaurant Association, told Cannabis Wire, “We monitor nearly all cannabis-related bills, but we only actively lobby those that may have a direct impact on restaurants. Neither of these bills ultimately directly impacted the restaurant industry, so we didn’t actively engage.”
MADD’s interest in cannabis issues is limited to impaired driving, MADD Colorado Director Fran Lanzer told Cannabis Wire. “MADD doesn’t have a position on whether or not cannabis should be legal or illegal. We don’t have a position on whether or not alcohol should be legal or illegal. What we’re trying to do is really prevent impaired driving.”
Lanzer added, “We felt like, if we haven’t taken a position on alcohol delivery, it’s not appropriate for us to take one on marijuana delivery. We did review the bill to take a look and see, you know, are there some safeguards? Do they have to card people, for example? What can we do to prevent underage access and make sure those comparable safeguards are in place?”
In addition to the hospitality and delivery bills passed last year, and the subsequent focus on approaching both with an eye toward equity in Denver, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law this June a bill to expand cannabis equity and pardons statewide.