Expert-led coalition in Colorado looks to make the marijuana industry more equitable

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The Drug Policy Alliance is behind a push to improve the state’s marijuana regulatory framework

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), an organization based out of New York that lobbies for marijuana reform around the country, is leading a coalition hoping to assist Colorado with its legislation. It has met with Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Affairs (DORA) to propose several changes that will enable the state’s marijuana industry to become more equitable for everyone.

According to the DPA’s director for Colorado, Art Way, “Since Colorado became the first state to legally regulate marijuana, the national conversation has shifted from whether we’ll legalize to how we should do it. Colorado can do much more to address the lasting impacts of decades of mass criminalization. Given the current lack of diversity in Colorado’s legal marijuana market, we urgently need to follow the lead of other states and cities that are implementing policies to reduce barriers to entry in the industry.”

The new coalition is comprised of members from a number of organizations, including the Colorado Fiscal Institute, the Colorado Latino Forum, the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCAB), the NAACP of CO, MT and WY, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and many others.

Kayvan Khalatbari, who represents the MCBA, said, “DORA is responsible for assessing whether regulations are consistent with the public interest, spur or restrict competition, unduly restrict participants or create affirmative action. The endorsement letter our coalition puts forward addresses these issues through recommendations concerning broad access to and equity within this still young industry.”

Some of the group’s recommendations have already been implemented. When DORA released its so-called “sunset report” recently, a number of the items covered, including changes to criminal records and data collection, were added as a direct result of the coalition’s suggestions.

As with any new industry, there is always a period in which the industry must experience growing pains toward maturity. However, with groups such as the DPA leading the way, widespread adoption of marijuana in a way that is beneficial to everyone can be achieved.