Marijuana CEO Breaks Barriers with Chamber of Commerce Position

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Marijuana has been fighting to make its way into mainstream acceptance since, well, as long as anyone alive can remember. That fight moved one round closer to completion with the election of Jake Salazar, CEO of MMJ America, to the board of directions for the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The appointment is a positive for both Salazar and the marijuana industry, giving them a nice recognition by the business community. A number of large businesses are represented in the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, including Denver International Airport, MillerCoors, Bank of America, Xcel Energy and the ACLU.

Coming up on the 10th anniversary of MMJ America, Salazar has had the benefit of seeing the industry change from hidden grow houses to a full-scale industry.

“It was really taboo. When I was still had my real estate company, during the day I was doing that, and at night we were harvesting or feeding the plants,” said Salazar. “Political conversations were much different, there was more of a hush-hush conversation and everything was hearsay, whereas now, it’s right there and everyone seems to be talking about it. It’s much more socially accepted now than it was then.”

Even in Colorado, where legalization passed with 55 percent, there’s still a portion against legal weed (about 45 percent of the state, after all). In particular, “hispanics are less supportive of legalizing marijuana” than other races, according to the Pew Research Center—46 percent of Hispanics favor legalization, compared to 59 percent of whites and African Americans.

“Yeah there’s a lot of work to be done still. It’s accepted, but there’s definitely some big companies represented on this board. It took a long time to be considered and nominated for that position, so it’s still not as mainstream as people might think,” Salazar said with a laugh. “But it’s come a long way.”

Salazar, at least, is doing his part to make sure the political wind is blowing in his future, particularly with recent comments from Attorney General Sessions regarding legalization.

“We’ve been in the lobbying effort as we saw the political wind shifting. We’ve been out working the political angle, especially in our state, making sure we get what the voters voted for, ultimately,” said Salazar. “I think we have a lot of really good support, on the Republican and the Democrat side. Our politicians are going to stand up for us here.”

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