Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirNovember 16, 20173min4330

A lot of the workaday tax credits and deductions that businesses routinely use to trim Uncle Sam’s take are still off-limits to Colorado’s legal marijuana enterprises. That would change under legislation Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner signed onto this week as a co-sponsor.

As noted in a press release from Gardner’s office, the legislation, introduced by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, would “ensure marijuana businesses legally operating in Colorado and other states that have legalized the sale of marijuana are able to utilize common business tax deductions and credits, such as those for normal business expenses or for hiring veterans.”

The legislation underscores the continued rift over legal marijuana between the Trump administration and states like Colorado, and it highlights once again the irony of conservative Republicans like Gardner moving to shore up states’ rights on the matter in the face of opposition from conservative Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Despite the administration push-back, Gardner, quoted in the announcement by his office, comes across as an unflinching champion of free-market marijuana who might as well be saying, “Jeff who?”

“Our current tax code puts thousands of legal marijuana businesses throughout Colorado at a disadvantage by treating them differently than other businesses across the state … Coloradans made their voices heard in 2012 when they legalized marijuana and it’s time for the federal government to allow Colorado businesses to compete. This commonsense, bipartisan bill will allow small businesses in Colorado and other states that have legal marijuana businesses to grow their operations, create jobs, and boost the economy.”

The press release also notes bipartisan accolades for Gardner’s embrace of the legislation:

“I commend Senator Gardner for fighting for Colorado’s small businesses,” said Sal Pace, former Democratic Leader in the Colorado State House and sitting Pueblo County Commissioner. “By sponsoring S.777, Senator Gardner is saying that he wants to put millions of dollars back into Colorado’s economy. This is a watershed moment. We don’t hear of a lot of bipartisanship these days. But, this Democrat wants to publicly thank Senator Gardner for his leadership.”


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 18, 20173min2610

With an eye on fulfilling its promise to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades, Denver has released new environmental best practices for indoor cannabis cultivators.

Through a Denver Department of Environmental Health cannabis sustainability working group, the city released the environmental guide for energy and water use reduction, waste minimization and pest control for the metro Denver cannabis cultivation industry.

The guide offers a picture of the industry’s impact on the local environment and advice on reducing that impact.

“Commercial buildings represent 35 percent of citywide emissions, and as cannabis businesses occupy an increasing amount of commercial building space, the industry plays an important role in helping the community meet its emissions targets,” the guide notes.

Denver is currently home to more than 591 active cultivation licenses, operating out of 295 locations.

To reduce its environmental footprint, the guide makes recommendations including using carbon filtration rather than reverse osmosis for solid waste minimization, water use optimization and energy efficiency; selecting packaging that is made from recycled material and is recyclable and/or compostable; combining heat and power systems, which can reduce emissions by 25 to 45 percent and serve as reliable source of power during outages; and incorporating water recapture and reuse into existing cultivation processes among other best practices.

Denver’s climate plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050, setting lofty goals like a move to all clean, renewable energy by 2030 and requiring new buildings follow “net-zero” standards.

The guide was released ahead of the Cannabis Sustainability Symposium held Tuesday and Wednesday this week in downtown Denver. The event provides education on tools, techniques and technologies for efficient and safe cannabis production.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirOctober 4, 20173min4780

Question 2A on Pueblo’s municipal ballot this November asks voters in the mayor-less city to establish a mayor’s office — a full-time, well-compensated chief exec who would lead the city’s administration as a reconstituted executive branch opposite the City Council. More or less like the mayor’s office in much-bigger Colorado Springs, just up the road. And like the mayor’s office in much-much-bigger Denver, just up the road from there.

And as far as some civic leaders are concerned, the change — and the enhanced profile it will bring the Steel City — can’t come soon enough.

The Pueblo Chieftain’s Ryan Severance captured the mood at a recent town hall meeting at which a citizens committee formed to promote the ballot issue briefed the public:

… (Committee member) Elizabeth Gallegos, also a small business owner, said she’s a little tired of being looked down upon and wants Pueblo to be respected.

“I feel like our town has a really special way about it that not everyone that lives outside of our city understands. I want a leader that will work alongside our chambers (of commerce), PEDCO (Pueblo Economic Development Corp.) and our citizens,” Gallegos said.

Pueblo is still known for the once-pivotal role its renowned steel mill played in the local economy and in meeting the demand for steel throughout the Rocky Mountain West. Pueblo was the powerhouse of southern Colorado for much of the 20th century and during that period was larger than neighboring Colorado Springs 40 miles to the north.  In recent decades, as the mill downsized with the shifting global economy, city as struggled to find its footing and refocus its image. It has made progress of late, in no small part due to to the city’s emerging recreational marijuana industry, which local leaders mostly have welcomed.

Some of the backers of the ballot issue seem to feel it its the next logical step toward Pueblo’s re-emergence as a contender. Said Gallegos:

“Our citizens would elect someone that would be concerned about setting the record straight in our city and in our state. I want someone to shout out the praises and all the wonderful things our city is. I want someone that will not be ashamed to speak up on behalf of our city and citizens that deserve a voice.”


Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 2, 20174min339

All the news you need to know for greater Rangely can be found in the Rio Blanco Herald, and this weekend the reliable paper reported on local support for hemp in the context of "community, workforce and economic development." A local organization called Better City held a forum last week to talk about what would boost fortunes in the northwest Colorado town of about 2,100. A new grocery store topped the list, but the second highest need named by residents was "marijuana/hemp cultivation." What does Rangely need less than weed? Recreation equipment rentals, a brewpub and a car wash, according to the votes. Online directories suggest the nearest place to buy marijuana, if you live in Rangely, is Grand Junction, an hour and 45 minutes away on clear roads. Those at the Rangely meeting were asked to cite things they thought would help attract or expand commerce, the Rio Blanco Herald said. "County commissioner Jeff Rector emphasized the potential for hemp in the area," the paper reported. Small towns in Colorado and in other states that have legalized marijuana have reported at least a short-term windfall from taxes and economic activity around marijuana, which rang up about $4 billion in sales in Colorado last year. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported in May about how tiny Sedgwick had gone from ghost town to boom town since voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2012. Hudson built its first school in 55 years with more than a quarter of the $15 million cost coming from pot taxes. Hemp is another matter. The non-intoxicating fiber from pot plants is of keen interest to state legislators.  Besides funding studies to find out the uses and economic benefits of hemp cultivation, some lawmakers are getting in on the ground level. State Sen. Don Coram is growing 10 acres on his farm on the Western Slope and state Rep. Kimmi Lewis said her son grows hemp on the Eastern Plains. The legislature passed four pieces of hemp legislation in the last session: Senate Bill 109 to create a feasibility study on using hemp as livestock feed bySen. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Rep. Jeni Arndt, D-Fort Collins. House Bill 1148 to register industrial hemp cultivators with the Department of Agriculture, sponsored by Arndt and Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley. Senate Bill 90 to ensure industrial hemp doesn't exceed the the constitutional potency that might make it pot, sponsored by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs. Senate Bill 117 to allow a decreed water right to be used in industrial hemp cultivation, sponsored by Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, and Reps. Donald Valdez, D-La Jara, and Marc Catlin. R-Montrose.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 25, 20172min5030

You read that right, marijuana. Well, at least that’s what a new study by Consumer Research Around Cannabis says of opinions about pot among adults in Denver and Colorado Springs.

As BizWest reported last week, the survey found Colorado Springs’ perspective on marijuana — the Springs being, arguably, among the most conservative cities in the country — aligned fairly closely with reliably liberal Denver.

Take it from BizWest’s Jensen Werley:

While Colorado Springs identifies as more conservative — 39 percent, with 20 percent identifying as liberal and 41 percent as independent — people there have usage opinions very similar to the more liberal Denver, where 30 percent of residents identify as liberal, 31 percent conservative and 39 percent independent.

Predictably, slightly more adults approve of marijuana in Denver than Colorado Springs, 58 to 52 percent. But, when analyzed under the scope of political affiliation, the numbers are very similar between the two cities.

  • About 75 percent of liberals in Denver approve of legalized marijuana and 72 percent of liberals in Colorado Springs approved.
  • About 37 percent of conservatives in Denver approved, compared to 34 percent of conservatives in Colorado Springs.
  • And 61 percent of independents in Denver approved, with 59 percent of independents in Colorado Springs approving.

Additionally, the reasons for marijuana usage were also comparable, with one of the top reasons for using pot being sleep — 23 percent in Denver to 17.5 percent in Colorado Springs. Insomnia be damned.

Despite the similarities in the survey, glaring differences persist in policy between the two cities, including the fact Colorado Springs has yet to allow retail marijuana dispensaries in city limits five years after legalization. Denver leads the state in dispensaries.


Kara MasonKara MasonSeptember 15, 20172min3220

Former Colorado State Fair manager Chris Wiseman is jumping into Pueblo politics.

The 12-year fair veteran isn’t new to the Colorado politics limelight. Being at the helm of the state fair has meant years of enduring pointed questions and political pandering over the event’s fate in calling Pueblo home.

Before the fair, Wiseman, a Democrat, worked for former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer and Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Wirth. Since his time at the state fair, Wiseman has worked with the Colorado Department of Agriculture as a deputy commissioner but recently announced via a Facebook post he’d turned in a letter of resignation with the intent to run for Pueblo County Commissioner.

The Pueblo Chieftain first reported on Wiseman’s bid, which may be centered on the future of hemp and cannabis:

“Wiseman said as commissioner he wants to see what he could do to expand markets for hemp as he has been doing at the department of ag.”

That position already has been met with opposition by a group of vocal, yet mostly informal, marijuana industry critics. A Facebook page titled, “Parents against the normalization of dope,” which mostly comments on Pueblo-related marijuana news, posted that it “wasn’t surprised” by the “drug person’s” bid.

The commissioner seat is being vacated by Sal Pace, a former state House minority leader, who announced earlier this year that he wouldn’t run for re-election because he wants to spend more time with his family. Pace was first elected as county commissioner in 2013.