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Inside Denver’s struggles to diversify its $700M marijuana market

Ari Cohen was set up for success in Denver’s trailblazing weed market.

The New Jersey native had a successful career in the food and hospitality industry in New York City. He parlayed that experience into running operations for a multi-state marijuana edibles brand after moving to Colorado more than five years ago. And Denver is home to one of the most mature marijuana markets in the world, with $689 million in sales last year.

But less than a year after Cohen’s business — Doobba — made the city’s first legal cannabis delivery, he shut it down.

“It’s not the program’s fault,” Cohen said, praising the efforts of city and state policymakers. “There’s a high cost to all the [cannabis] regulations.”

As weed legalization spreads across the country, white-owned cannabis companies are overwhelmingly the ones raking in billions of dollars a year selling a drug that disproportionately landed people of color behind bars. To counter the trend, cities like Oakland, Calif., and Cambridge, Mass. have launched initiatives to diversify their marijuana industries and offer business opportunities for those stung by the war on drugs — only to find themselves struggling to get those programs off the ground.

[Read more at Politico]

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