Home to around 500 marijuana dispensaries and cultivations, Denver is the capital of the pot trade in Colorado — but five-plus years after recreational sales began, navigating city and state regulations can still be hard for business owners and employees. To help them out, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses has hired a new liaison to help marijuana dispensary, grow and infused-product facilities avoid future headaches.
More than four months after the position was created, former journalist Joey Peña was finally named the city's first official cannabis process navigator on June 19. In an announcement of the hire, Excise and Licenses said that Peña's role will be to "help the industry navigate the rules, to fortify and expand trust and transparency between the cannabis industry and Denver’s marijuana regulatory agencies, and serve as a point of contact between marijuana businesses and the City of Denver."
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Owning a business in the marijuana industry comes with a unique set of regulations, tax systems and licensing processes, including specific zoning requirements and advertising regulations. The addition of Peña was made to help business owners have a better working relationship with city regulators, according to Excise and Licenses director Ashley Kilroy.
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“We’re always looking for ways to improve so we can continue to offer a business-friendly environment and protect public safety. As we move forward into the next era of legalized marijuana, this new position will provide a go-to person in Denver for the industry to collaborate with and learn about regulations," Kilroy said in the statement. "Joey’s extensive background in writing and reporting about the industry and government regulation equips him with the knowledge necessary to serve as a direct point of contact who can successfully address industry concerns."
Kilroy adds that the new position was created after industry feedback asking for more engagement from the city. A reporter for Marijuana Business Daily for several years while also working in communications for Denver Public Schools, Peña will use his education and marijuana experience to hold working-group meetings with Denver pot businesses while also pushing diversity.