Colorado's Corrupt Cannabis Market Setting Stage for Consolidations
Cannabis sales are plummeting in Colorado and businesses are closing their doors or selling out. Large chain operator, Buddy Boy Brands announced this week that they are closing their stores due to plummeting sales. The plummeting sales can be directly correlated with other states coming onboard, the passing of Colorado House Bill 1317, COVID, inflation, and most importantly, the 478 pages of protectionist regulations. Cannabis is supposed to be an elastic good as it replaces many medications and alcohol use. Instead, the market has tanked and opened up for consolidations and transfer of wealth.
However, something else a little bit more sinister looks to be at play, and that is positioning Colorado for a market takeover by multi-state operators (MSOs). Many of these MSOs are not interested in developing a robust cannabis market and instead are seeking to corner it much like Walmart and Monsanto in their respective industries. As Colorado's market contracts, bigger operators are able to buy smaller operators out thus consolidating power.
The fox in the henhouse is looking to be none other than Governor Jared Polis and his buddy, Ean Seeb and their team of lobbyist pals who work for said multi-state operators, and the business owners themselves. And it started several years ago but was solidified in motion in a move that probably seemed relatively benign to outsiders and even like a good move for marijuana for some (definitely not all) insiders, when Polis appointed Ean Seeb to be his marijuana advisor and even issued press statements bragging about appointing a nonpolicy person to a policy position.
He may as well just told us to our faces he was going to corrupt the cannabis industry and position the whole entire state of Colorado for a hostile takeover. And Ean is just the man for that job.
It's important to pay attention because what is happening in Colorado is a harbinger of what’s to come if activists and small business owners don’t act now to change the legalization dialogue to support small business and bring generational wealth to the people who created the illicit market who were also the ones originally fighting for it to be legalized to legitimize themselves and their peers. I was one of those activists. I wanted more than to just not be targeted for arrests. I wanted to create a wellness program to introduce cannabis to people in need in the early 2000s. That was derailed by the upcoming rent seeking regulatory monster legalization movement called “tax and regulate.”
This model, spear-headed by the Marijuana Policy Project in cahoots with NORML and is why Steve Fox, Mason Tvert, and Paul Armentano wrote the book, Marijuana is Safer: Why are we Driving People to Drink?” Many people bought into it, except for Colorado’s Denver 420 Rally that was founded by the late Ken Gorman who was the actual founding father of Colorado cannabis. Everyone else are step ins. That’s for another blog. This one is more on the what’s happening now in Colorado and is an official call to action for activists across to the country to unite and push for more inclusive legalization models. As it is, social equity has also been hijacked by these people and then bastardized to be more like equal opportunity than the reparations that it truly means.
Governor Jared Polis is the worst thing to happen to cannabis, especially small business, but now his policies are pushing his motive to consolidate the market for his buddies is impacting the larger operators. Or are they as these people still own other operations as MSOs? The owner of Buddy Boy Brands is a multi-state operator himself with multiple brands so he could just be dumping assets as he positions himself for growth in other areas.
Since the passing of Colorado HB 1317 which crushed Colorado medical marijuana market and many businesses have been forced to close. But big cannabis has been pushing medical marijuana for quite some time now into the tax and regulate model that benefits grifters and rent seekers and not the stakeholders who built the market that was stolen. It's actually very disappointing how Colorado has handled medical marijuana with an intention to get tax dollars over patient access.
Then there is big oil. In fact, Christian Sederberg of Vicente Sederberg, an MPP-backed law firm who has morphed into the United States Cannabis Council and National Hispanic Cannabis Council. literally moved into cannabis over from the oil and gas space and it's why the regulations are so protectionist beyond the eight requirements promoted by the Justice Dept. These people really know how to create market protectionism! I mean, look at climate change. The oil and gas industry deceived the entire planet onto the brink of death and destruction.
So, back in the 2000s after medical marijuana passed, these folks, Polis included as some of them worked for him and his campaign, started meeting privately to discuss cannabis legalization. Terrapin Care Station lobbyist who ran unsuccessfully for Boulder City Council, Shawn Coleman, was one of these people. An ENORMOUS red flag is that Ean sold his business, Denver Relief and the one that helped create the monstrosity known as Cresco, to Terrapin Care Station, a MSO. See how the pattern starts to emerge? Ean sold Denver Relief to avoid looking like he had a conflict of interest and then just started giving all the power to the company he sold it to.
By Polis appointing Ean, he didn’t have to interview people for the position. People like me who has a master’s in public policy and two decades experience in cannabis, but I am a whistleblower and they don’t like me and they also don’t want to give the position to a policy person because chances are that person will blow the whistle on their shenanigans as they tend to be pretty by the book.
Polis was groomed by MPP. It’s a legalization strategy that they devised to get cannabis friendly people elected and to generate media. Polis is just the right ego for the role and has the right amount of hubris. He is 100% a corrupt politician. There are not one, but two rigged contracts that went to favor Ean Seeb’s friends and Terrapin Care Station and MSOs. I’ll report more on that in another blog. For now, I want people to start to see the same patterns I am seeing in Polis and his crew. Like for example, the fact that Polis is shoving educational bills through the legislature even at the alarm of some of his own colleagues. They are funded with marijuana dollars. He has presidential designs so of course he would shove educational bills through!
Polis is an expert at hiding his selfishness with passing sweeping progressive reform but is far from being someone who practices what he preaches and behaves as though he is above democracy by shoving multiple bills through causing upset and not even being bothered to be concerned. A true villain.
So, while the activists in Colorado erroneously teamed up with MPP and even NORML thinking we would be free to produce and distribute cannabis, we were sold out very early in the game and Polis was absolutely in on this and now he and Ean are positioning the whole market for a takeover. And, it was all done by his inner circle of advisors. It’s all very carefully planned.
Besides his own hubris, what makes Polis such a problem is his circle of cannabis advisors. There’s Terrapin Care Station lobbyist Shawn Coleman that I mentioned. But, there is also Terrapin Communications Director, Peter Marcus, a former political reporter. He’s the reason for the media not honestly reporting on cannabis. There is his girlfriend, Samantha Walsh, who is a lobbyist for MPP and also for Wanda James. Wanda worked for Polis’ campaign and pretends to be about social equity but it's only to save face because she helped start the Marijuana Enforcement Division and shut out her own people and brown people. The Denver 420 Rally called her out along with all of these other people in this clique as agents of colonialism back in 2009 forward. She is only working in social equity to help Polis keep power. She was Pres. Obama’s biggest bundler in Colorado and she uses her political connections to bully people and then calls the people she bullies the bullies.
Then there is Jessica Peck who helped Steve Fox mastermind the A 64 strategy as a spokeswoman for MPP who a white supremacist is historically who was BFF with Wanda. This lady literally headed an anti-affirmative action campaign and went ham against state funded diversity programs. Suddenly she’s a Democrat now by the way after Polis appointed her to the Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force.
Jessica is a sneaky one for sure. She has always been obsessed with power (and race and not for the good) and loves to brag about how much of it she has and coveted media to show it. Oh, and she happens to be Robert Corry Jr’s ex wife. She helped "sanatize" the space for MPP's optics to make cannabis less scary by featuring conservative WASPY moms while media derided "cartels" and scary back alley deals painting a very classist and racist picture of the illicit market to get buy in from politicians.
All of these people started industry groups that then moved to take the market from the caregivers and activists from the scary black market that was at the heart of the legalization movement and what Samantha Walsh calls the “undesirables.” No. We were people who got baited and switched upon thinking these people were here to help us become legal and legitimate. They just wanted our customers and control of the market. And they are getting close.
All of these people make up Polis' inner cannabis circle and he listens to no one else and they are so corrupt they are destroying the very soul of the movement. They have been given power to run ram shod over other people in the space and not invite anyone to the table they don’t like and who go against their policies. This is not democracy, it’s instead the type of cronyism you find in communist countries. In fact, they exemplify why corruption is bad for the economy and HORRIBLE for democracy. Had the cannabis industry been more equitable from the start instead of taken over by the rich people from Boulder and their friends, there would have been a robust cannabis market full of choices between high quality products. Instead, you have cabal restricting the market.
If Colorado is to save the cannabis market, they need to check these people who have literally corrupted democracy in their greedy game. The entire cannabis market is at stake as is the hard work of the people who predated these predators. Polis is a major threat to small business and he's part of the congressional Cannabis Caucus working hard to protect his buddies but not to open the market up for everyone. Cannabis is a renewable resource and NOT like other industries. The more open the market, the more economic potential it reaches. Restricting it to a couple overlords is not the game plan and never was and now is the time to organize across the country and reach out to lawmakers demanding a seat at the table.
Larisa Bolivar has a Master’s of Public Policy with a concentration in cannabis policy reform from Regis University in Denver, CO (2015) with over 20 years as a trailblazer in the cannabis space and is a cannabis industry watchdog who resides in Oklahoma, Cannabis’ most free market.