Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jul 2016
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2016 The Denver Post Corp
Author: Mark K. Matthews


Philadelphia - This isn't your teenage son's marijuana industry 
anymore; it's your button-down dad's business - at least at the 
Democratic National Convention.

Even as pro-marijuana activists marched this week in Philadelphia 
with a fake 51-foot joint, teams of industry leaders and lobbyists 
were busy doing the kind of work one would expect from the beer or 
pharmaceutical industry: holding receptions, talking to politicians 
and discussing regulations. In other words, the boring stuff. "We're 
dealing with an industry that's a lot more suit and tie," said 
Michael Bronstein, co-founder of the

American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp. "That's what it 
felt like - it was a Chamber (of Commerce) event, not a protest."

The change in attitude is a reflection of how much has changed since 
the 2012 election.

Led by Colorado, four states now regulate pot like alcohol and about 
20 other states have legalized medical marijuana, according to the 
Marijuana Policy Project. This year at least a half-dozen states will 
vote on recreational or medical use as well.

"In many ways the DNC was a coming-out party for us," Bronstein said. 
"If you came here as someone interested solely in the cannabis 
industry, there was something for you every day."

That included a Sunday fundraiser for the Marijuana Policy Project, 
which promotes legalization, and a Monday meet-and-greet for 
policymakers and industry leaders.

The reception saw "a packed house," said Andy Williams, the CEO of 
Medicine Man, which claims Denver's largest single marijuana 
dispensary. "There was a lot of conversation about the industry and 
how it's growing up."

Marijuana activists had a reason to celebrate this week too. Now 
included in the Democratic platform is a provision - advocated by 
Coloradan Dennis Obduskey - that calls for the party to set "reasoned 
pathway for future legalization." "That is a big win," Williams said. 
Tied to that victory was a shift in how convention-goers talk about 
marijuana. Now it's more common to hear a conversation about business 
regulations instead of just legalization.

"This is an industry going through the logical procession of 
maturity," Williams said. He said new goals include efforts to remove 
barriers to credit-card purchases as well as the use of banks by 
marijuana companies.

Lately, the weed industry has begun to play a bigger role in politics 
too. In March, supporters of the cannabis industry held a fundraiser 
for U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, DArvada, who has tried to help with the 
banking issue.

A desire to align federal law with Colorado law is "growing by leaps 
and bounds to the point where we got a position in the (Democratic) 
platform on it," Perlmutter said.

Given the success in Philadelphia, one industry consultant said it 
was likely the marijuana business would have a presence in 2020 at 
both the Republican and Democratic conventions.

"It's such a major signpost we're passing," said Leslie Bocskor of 
Electrum Partners. "I expect in four years we will be at the RNC."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom