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Marijuana: Mayor Michael Hancock's treatment of pot industry "beyond insulting," activist says

Michael Hancock on the night he was elected Denver mayor. More photos below.
Michael Hancock on the night he was elected Denver mayor. More photos below.
Photo by Kate Levy

Press releases don't typically stir passions. But cannabis activist Wanda James was incensed after receiving a missive from Mayor Michael Hancock (see it below) in which he thanked the Denver City Council for passing his $3.35 million marijuana budget proposal but offered no kudos to the pot industry that generated all that extra cash.

James says that's nothing new. In her view, the way Hancock and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper have treated the cannabis industry to date is "beyond insulting."

The city council unanimously approved Hancock's proposal to spend Denver marijuana revenues. His plan calls for money to be allocated in three categories, with $1,785,700 going to "business regulations and neighborhood safety," $825,700 to "law enforcement and public safety" and $746,000 to "youth and public education."

Wanda James.
Wanda James.

But according to James, Hancock's salute to council members leaves out plenty of others deserving of praise. She's frustrated that "the mayor of Denver will not acknowledge all the good things that have happened for the city and the state because of this industry."

James is a veteran restaurateur and former infused-edibles business owner who's currently fronting Cannabis Global Initiative, a consulting firm "working with cities, states, organizations and even countries like Jamaica to help further the advancement of cannabis." And from her perspective, a lot of the good economic news in Denver and Colorado of late has been partly or largely fueled by marijuana legalization.

She cites increased tourism, a rise in Colorado college applications, more passengers traveling through Denver International Airport, thousands of families moving to the state so that their seizure-afflicted children can receive high-CBD oil treatment that seems to help them far more than other therapies. And that's not to mention "the number of properties that have been rented and renovated and continue to help this city grow and turn bad neighborhoods into booming districts, i.e. south Broadway.

A file photo of Mayor Michael Hancock.
A file photo of Mayor Michael Hancock.

"So many entrepreneurs have come to Denver, learned this industry, invested in this industry," she continues. "And yet we haven't seen one ribbon-cutting from the mayor or the governor, and not one positive word from either of them about the amazing things that are happening here because of this industry."

She contrasts the approach of Hancock -- a vocal opponent of Amendment 64, the measure that legalized limited recreational cannabis sales to adults age 21 and over -- with recent comments from national figures.

"If the current president of the United States can acknowledge that it's time to stop arresting minority people over this, if [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder can understand how important this is, and if Bill Clinton can come to Colorado and say it's time for a change, how dare the mayor and the governor, both Democrats, not acknowledge the fact that great things are happening in their city and their state."

Here's the aforementioned press release:

Mayor Hancock Thanks Denver City Council for Approval of Marijuana Budget Proposal

DENVER -- Mayor Michael B. Hancock today released the following statement regarding Denver City Council's unanimous approval of a $3.35 million spending plan that will allow the city to meet immediate regulatory, safety and education needs directly tied to the new retail marijuana industry.

"As the first state to establish a retail marijuana industry, Denver and Colorado are creating a regulatory framework from the ground up. One that will serve as a model not only in the U.S. but worldwide. To ensure we get this right from the beginning, we must have the proper resources in place."

"I want to thank the Denver City Council for their thoughtful consideration of the spending plan. Their approval tonight will give the city the tools to appropriately regulate the industry and protect our neighborhoods, children, parks and other public spaces."

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Marijuana archive circa October 2012: "Marijuana: Wanda James on closure of edibles business, MMJ banking, Obama and more."


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