Colorado's cannabis economy leads the nation. The mayor of its second-largest city pretends it doesn't exist

By Bart Taylor | Jul 29, 2020

Cannabis & Hemp Colorado

If you wish hard enough, maybe it will go away.

That seems to be the approach of Colorado Springs mayor John Suthers, who argued recently to prevent voters from deciding whether recreational cannabis could be sold in the city. His "sharp criticism" of the option dissuaded the city council from approving a ballot measure this fall.

Suthers position was summed up by the Colorado Springs daily newspaper, The Gazette:

"Suthers also argued the promises made by recreational marijuana proponents when it was legalized statewide in 2012, such as reigning in the black market, have not been kept. 'We are spending infinitely more time and effort regulating marijuana than when it was illegal,' he said."

It's an obtuse statement for the ages. We're spending more time regulating marijuana, because we're regulating marijuana. Plus, not only have proponents kept their promises, the dark, dystopian future forecast by opponents of legalization hasn't materialized.

Suthers shouldn't be held to account for opposing legal marijuana. He's been consistent in his opposition to it. That the mayor would instead relegate a billion-dollar industry to the black market is unconscionable for the leader of Colorado's second largest city. Meanwhile, Colorado's cannabis locomotive rolls down the track. Every month, the state's residents demonstrate new and unwavering support for the industry's products.

It's a sparkling industry at that. Tomorrow we'll announce the winner of the second Colorado Manufacturing Awards Cannabis Manufacturer of the Year. One of the finalists, Hemp Depot, is a Colorado Springs company that's brought dozens of jobs to the city. They're a national leader, one of a select few cannabis companies to receive an FDA-endorsed GMP certification for professional operations. They bring much needed science, transparency, and operational acumen to a legal hemp CBD market that further legitimizes the cannabis space.

Not that the mayor would know the difference between THC and CBD. For cannabis deniers, it's all the same.

For the city, it's more of the same. The professed need of denying citizens their vote is to protect the defense economy. Or as The Gazette surmised, "Opponents argued legalizing recreational marijuana could hurt the town's chances of becoming the next permanent home for U.S. Space Command because the military would likely weigh the drug laws in competing communities in its decision."

Left to generals, the U.S. military would do no such thing. Time and again, military brass sloughs off a conservative stereotype with progressive, modern leadership that reflects the makeup of their standard bearers -- soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and scientists. If the U.S. Space Command seeks a cannabis-free zone to host operations, they'll need to look outside the U.S.

In the real world, if those in Suthers' camp would embrace regulation and not work to undermine the industry with misleading nonsense, the black market would fade away.

Wish for it. Maybe it will come true.

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at