The state is continuing to be a driving force behind marijuana expansion in the U.S.
The marijuana industry in Colorado is now worth over $6 billion. As it grows, so does the cannabis lobby, which has increased in both stature and its spending. 2019 could see even more growth, especially given that many of the bills previously rejected by former governor John Hickenlooper will now be resubmitted under the state’s new governor, Jared Polis.
The Colorado cannabis lobby spent $955,000 last year – three times more than it had spent in 2013. Already in the first seven months of the current fiscal year, it has spent just under $670,000, which is how much it spent in the entirety of 2017.
Explains Christian Sederberg, founding partner of the Vicente Sederberg law firm, “We’ve evolved to being a very significant industry in the state of Colorado. There’s so much activity every year on significant cannabis-related legislation that we’ve seen significant growth in representation, at least in terms of professional lobbyists down here at the Capitol.”
By way of comparison, a group that has tried to make marijuana laws tougher, Smart Colorado, spent a combined $346,121 from July 2012 through June of last year.
Since July 2012, over 50 people or groups have lobbied on behalf of marijuana-related businesses in Colorado. This year, of the approximately 500 registered lobbyists in Colorado, 30 are representatives of marijuana businesses.
The biggest spender in the state is the Marijuana Industry Group. It has held the title since July 2012 and has spent more than $1 million lobbying for marijuana causes since then. The group’s executive director, Kristi Kelly, explains, “The spending has tripled, but it’s still relatively nominal compared to what other industries are spending. And whereas as a lobbyist on another issue in another industry might track a couple of (bills) a year, we’re tracking 30 bills a year, plus.”
The issue, however, goes well beyond Colorado’s borders. The activity is also helping to shed light on marijuana on a national level and could ultimately assist in changing federal marijuana laws, as well.