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Presidential vote raises questions about future of Colorado's marijuana industry

Posted at 7:21 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 21:21:22-05

DENVER - Questions linger about the future of marijuana now that Donald Trump has been elected president and will have the backing of a GOP-controlled Congress.

Will the coming change in Washington impact Colorado’s burgeoning marijuana industry?

“This is very concerning,” said Miguel Lopez, organizer of the 420 Rally, “with a president-elect that has come out with so many extreme remarks.”

Lopez told Denver7 that the “marijuana movement” was initially started by people who were marginalized.

The president-elect has voiced his support for medical marijuana, but he told Sean Hannity last year that he’d have to take a close look at recreational marijuana because, “there are some really bad things happening in Colorado, with respect to people.”

Trump also told Hannity that he supported state’s rights.

Kristi Kelly, interim executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, told Denver7, there are two things to consider with regard to the election.

She said one is the change in the political party at the presidential level, and the other is that a number of states which voted to embrace and adopt medical marijuana or legalized marijuana.

“So what we’re really talking about,” she said, “is a conversation about what voters in the U.S. want. And right now, according to current polls, popularity and support for marijuana is very high.”

When asked about Trump’s comments, Kelly replied, “The first thing is, he said he was supportive of medical marijuana. The second thing we heard him say is he’s pro-state’s rights. That’s something we can build on.”

She said the marijuana issue is bigger than a single election, a single state or single experience.

“We’re watching very closely to see what Mr. Trump does over the coming days, weeks and months,” she said, “and we welcome the conversation because we consider this issue an ongoing issue that has a lot of different dimensions.”

While some people are concerned what might happen, Steve Horwitz, co-owner of the Ganja Gourmet, is not one of them.

“He’s a smart guy,” Horwitz said, referring to the president-elect.  “As a New York native, I’ve seen Trump and what he has accomplished.”

Horwitz told Denver7 that he remembers New York Mayor Ed Koch trying and failing to get a skating rink built downtown.  He said Trump got it built.

Horwitz added that Trump is very business oriented.  He said that bodes well for entrepreneurs, even those in the marijuana business.

“There’s no way we’re going to go backwards in this country,” he said.  “I mean California and Massachusetts just voted ‘yes’ on recreational marijuana, so we’re not going backwards.” 

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