Despite being the biggest city in the first state in the country to approve a commercial cannabis market, Denver is behind the pack pushing for social equity regarding the plant.
States later to the legalization party than Colorado have been lauded for programs helping those convicted of marijuana-related offenses to expunge records and also pushing for diversity in their local cannabis industries. Meanwhile, former and current government officials around Colorado admit that both the industry and the state could have done a better job of handling record-clearing for past cannabis offenders, while also making sure that victims of the drug war profit from new commercial opportunities.
Denver departments have previously collaborated on a cannabis social-equity initiative that included a record-sealing program for low-level pot convictions and formed a committee to address equity and diversity within the cannabis community — but the record-sealing program has struggled to identify and help qualified candidates since launching at the beginning of the year, with fewer than 100 applicants going through the process successfully. Meanwhile, the social-equity committee was filled with so much internal dissension that an outside mediator had to be brought in before the committee was ultimately dissolved.
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Now, before making its next official step, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses has hired data analysis firm Analytic Insight LLC to research Denver's cannabis industry in an effort to "explore the opportunities and challenges in creating equitable access to and participation in the cannabis industry." To get further feedback, Excises and Licenses is holding two public forums in late October to discuss diversity.
"Some of the issues anticipated to be examined include barriers to entrance, licensing hurdles and demographics of the industry," an announcement from Excise and Licenses reads.
The first forum will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 26, at the Swansea Recreation Center, 2946 East 49th Avenue. The second session is set for 6 p.m. on Monday, October 28, at the Wellington E. Webb Building, 201 West Colfax Avenue.