Colorado gov’s veto could drive marijuana businesses out of state, officials warn

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

After Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper quashed a bill that would have allowed publicly traded companies to invest in the state’s marijuana industry, local cannabis companies are threatening to move to other states.

Cannabis industry representatives joined state lawmakers and patient advocates at a news conference Thursday to voice their displeasure with the governor’s vetoes of three marijuana-related bills the industry supported, the Denver Business Journal reported.

One measure, House Bill 1011, would have allowed publicly traded companies to invest in or hold a medical or recreational marijuana license in the state, starting next January. 

“I have spoken with, I would say, three or four different organizations, a couple of whom have indicated a consideration to leave the state because of the now lack of availability of public capital,” said Bruce Nassau, board chair of the Marijuana Industry Group, according to the Denver Business Journal.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • At least two marijuana business associations, the Marijuana Industry Group and Colorado Leads, have expressed concerns about possible lost business after the governor’s veto of House Bill 1011.
  • Andy Williams, CEO of Denver-based Medicine Man, told Marijuana Business Daily he would consider moving his company’s headquarters to another state.
  • In addition to the bill about publicly traded companies, Hickenlooper shot down legislation that would have legalized public marijuana tasting lounges.
  • Hickenlooper also vetoed a bill that would have added autism spectrum disorder as a qualifying patient condition for receiving medical marijuana, arguing in part that the effect of MMJ on the condition hasn’t been fully studied.

Despite the displeasure from the cannabis industry over the governor’s vetoes, he did sign a letter of support Friday for the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act proposed by U.S. Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren.

The act aims to resolve the current conflict between states with legal marijuana programs and federal law that classifies cannabis as illegal.