Denver’s Cannabis policy director divulges details of operating America’s first legal recreational market

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Denver, Colorado’s capital and largest city, boasts the biggest concentration of recreational cannabis stores in the state.

Since launching adult-use cannabis sales back in 2014, the director of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses and the agency’s Office of Marijuana Policy, Ashley Kilroy, said that industry maturation has stifled the growth of cannabis business owners.

During an interview with MJBiz Daily, Kilroy said that “being first wasn’t easy.” Notwithstanding, she says that “We’re proud of what we have accomplished, but we know we have to prepare for new challenges ahead as the [cannabis industry] evolves.”

Denver’s cannabis industry insider is a strong believer of teamwork

Talking about the Mile High City and how companies in Denver have managed to regain stability after a bumpy start, Kilroy provided an insight into what cannabis businesses can do better for 2019.

When asked what business owners have discovered over the past years, Kilroy spoke of maturation, stabilization, and “exciting innovation.”

“At the beginning, we definitely had a lot of people who were passionate and excited to be at the table and really helpful for us, but they weren’t always speaking with one voice and it was hard for us to come to consensus,” she said. Kilroy added, “We had to have multiple players around the table, from regulators to the state, to the industry, to community members and health-care partners.”

Kilroy also drew attention to the fact that the industry was not as well-established back in 2014 as it is now.

“So now I think they know more about what they want and what they’re doing. They can deliver that to us government regulators in a more cohesive way that’s easier for us to act on,” she said in regards to the cannabis industry maturing.

Cannabis policy advisor offers tips on running a pot business in 2019

Avoiding communication issues in the workplace, Kilroy says, is to remain open in all facets of the business.

“We’re always open. Not just our department, but our building department and our environmental health department. Our goal is safety. It is cheaper for the city and our taxpayers if our licensed businesses understand the law and are in compliance than if we have to go out a year later and find they’re not in compliance,” she explained.

Moreover, adhering to cannabis industry regulations and in-departmental communication will be key for cannabis business owners to thrive this year.

When asked by MJBiz daily’s interviewer, Bart Schaneman, “What should [cannabis] business owners be thinking about in 2019, especially in communicating with your department and interacting with regulators?”  Kilroy responded as follows:

“I just ask that the industry continue to be connected to us, continue to call us with questions. One of the things we’ve seen is where the industry starts coming up with some new innovation – that old adage, seek forgiveness, don’t ask permission – and we don’t know what they’ve been doing. All the sudden we find some new innovation and we’re like, ‘If you would have told us you were doing this, we could have walked this path together and we could have helped guide you with where the regulators might go as result of this.’”