New State Cannabis Office Debuts in Colorado

Governor Jared Polis of Colorado is creating a more socially equitable state cannabis industry with Senate Bill 21-111.
New State Cannabis Office Debuts in Colorado

Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced the official launch of the Cannabis Business Office (CBO), which will manage multiple aspects of business owner support and social equity in the industry.

Governor Polis said in a statement on July 28 that the new office will help improve the state’s already thriving cannabis industry. “The Cannabis Business Office shows our administration’s focus on growing this thriving industry that supports jobs and our economy,” Governor Polis said. “Where the federal government has fallen behind, Colorado will lead. Colorado is, and always has been, the best place to live, work, grow and sell cannabis.” The CBO will lie under the umbrella of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade.

The passing of Senate Bill 21-111 during the 2021 legislative session in March 2021 is what made the CBO a reality. The bill explains that although the state’s industry is a “$2 billion, $200 million dollar economic engine,” one that has created over 40,000 jobs, very few of cannabis business owners in the state have past cannabis convictions. “The state is at a critical juncture where it must act to ensure Colorado remains a leader in the marijuana industry and ensure equal opportunity for all Coloradans to participate in this market; and providing technical and financial support to eligible entrepreneurs and small businesses will help ensure their endeavors get off the ground and succeed, which will benefit the state economy,” the bill text reads.

“Therefore, it is beneficial to create a program in the office of economic development to address these concerns and achieve these benefits.” SB 21-111 explains that $4 million would be set aside to help the office operate, paid by the state’s marijuana tax cash fund to be placed in the marijuana entrepreneur fund.

Colorado’s Industry Will be More Equitable with SB 21-111

The CBO will offer loans and grants to those seeking to get into and/or continue to thrive in the industry. More importantly, it will help bolster support for those who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs—specifically people of color who have cannabis-related convictions on their record that might prevent them from entering the industry. Technical assistance will also be offered to help business owners create a solid business plan and offer various consulting services.

The SB 21-111 states that a report must be submitted to the Governor between July 1, 2022 and July 1, 2023 with details about how the CBO spends its funds. For those interested in learning more, they can sign up for an email newsletter on the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade website.

According to most recent sales data on Colorado’s cannabis industry, the state has sold $962,071,139 between January and May of this year. In total cannabis sales since recreational cannabis launched in 2014, the state has collected $10,940,865,212. With these figures alone, there’s no doubt that Colorado is already a leader in the country’s cannabis industries.

A recent July report by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice also found that cannabis-related arrests have decreased significantly, by 68 percent, between 2012 and 2019 (or from 13,225 to only 4,290). The lengthy report also delves into cannabis DUIs (which have increased over the years), updated percentages of adults who use cannabis and tax revenue. The author and tracker of this data, Jack Reed, is careful to explain the possibilities of inconsistencies in this data due to how it was collected or other outside influences. “The majority of the data sources vary considerably in terms of what exists historically and the reliability of some sources has improved over time,” Reed wrote in the report.

“Consequently, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the potential effects of marijuana legalization and commercialization on public safety, public health or youth outcomes, and this may always be the case due to the lack of historical data. Furthermore, the measurement of available data elements can be affected by the very context of marijuana legalization.”

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