Over the past several years, the City of Denver has implemented a handful of initiatives to reserve marijuana business licenses for entrepreneurs from communities impacted by the War on Drugs. However, the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses is providing extra support and information for potential applicants, as issues like equitable access in the cannabis market can't be fixed overnight, according to communications manager Eric Escudero.
"We are determined over the long haul to continue to remove barriers and provide opportunities so this industry benefits more Denverites," he says.
For the event, Excise and Licenses reached out to dozens of local marijuana and marijuana service companies to provide information and contacts to social equity business owners in legal pot's retail, production, delivery and hospitality sectors.
"At this fair, we’re trying to work with applicants and license holders and use our network and resources to help them increase their chances of having a successful business here in Colorado," explains Ernest Toney, founder of Bipocann, a business consulting firm for owners of minority backgrounds in the marijuana industry.
Nearly thirty vendors from established marijuana companies and organizations will join Bipocann this weekend, including Denver-based dispensary chain Good Chemistry, the National Cannabis Industry Association and the Color of Cannabis, a Denver nonprofit that lobbies for and educates entrepreneurs from minority backgrounds. Several city and state regulatory agencies, business attorneys and commercial real estate experts will also be in attendance.
With so many members of the cannabis industry in one space, the fair is also a networking opportunity, Toney adds.
"I see the cannabis industry as a big ecosystem, and we’re just doing our part to let people know they have a resource that can be used to make introductions," he says.
Representatives from Denver Excise and Licenses, the Denver Retail Group and the state's Cannabis Business Office — a new branch of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade that provides loans and technical assistance to social equity marijuana business owners — will provide presentations to attendees about starting a business in the cannabis industry, as well.
“That’s what this is all about. We take a hard look at the barriers in place for having a successful business, and we’re going to have a lot of vendors that can help applicants jump over those hurdles and get them on the pathway of success," Escudero says.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to submit applications to the Denver City Attorney's Office for the Turn Over a New Leaf program, a city program created to clear old low-level marijuana charges in Denver from pre-legalization days.
The fair will be held at the Galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Saturday, October 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held by the state Department of Public Health and Environment until noon; face coverings will be required for the event. Register to attend here.