Chris Walsh: Marijuana Backers, Dispensaries Not Thrilled With Selection of Hancock as Mayor of Denver

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Dispensary owners and medical marijuana backers in Denver couldn’t have been too happy with the results of the city’s mayoral race. Michael Hancock, a two-term city councilman, cruised to an easy victory over Sen. Chris Romer on Tuesday.

I’ve heard several dispensary owners express reservations about Hancock over the past few weeks, as some feel he is against medical marijuana entirely. Just two weeks ago, a group of pro-marijuana organizations even “dis-endorsed” Hancock, citing his “insistence that cannabis is a gateway drug” and other statements about his opposition to general legalization.

It’s not like pot backers would have been happy with the other choice, either. Romer has an extensive background in investment banking, which some said would make him the ideal choice for the business community. But he’s also been a big proponent of stringent regulations on the industry.

It’s hard to say how he will approach the industry, but you should expect more regulations down the road. Take his comments in this Denver Daily News story from two months ago:

“We moved further ahead than most cities in this nation to create a platform where medical marijuana was accessible to the patients. We kind of balanced the needs and desires of the patients while also balancing the expectations and the needs and desires of the community.” He went on to say the “we’re not done” with regulations but that lawmakers need to learn more about this new industry and what effects it has on everything from crime to communities. “As we learn more over the next three to five years, we’ll have a little better crystal clear vision on the regulations.”

Look, if you’re just about legalizing marijuana for recreational use or otherwise, you’re not going to be happy with anyone, and especially Hancock. Very few politicians have come out saying that they think such a move is a good idea. I also know that a lot of dispensary owners are frustrated with the new set or regulations in Colorado. Hancock seems to support these types of regulations, and therefore he is painted as the bad guy in industry circles.

We haven’t seen any indications that Hancock will attempt to destroy the medical marijuana industry in Denver. Yes, he might make it more difficult for your business, particularly in the area of security regulations. And he might have some irrational fears about the industry. But the main question should be is he willing to learn more about the industry and keep an open mind? If so, perhaps he can further the cause.

Chris Walsh is the editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily