Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has vetoed a bill that would have allowed publicly traded companies to invest in cannabis businesses. The bill, HB18-1011, or “Marijuana Business Allow Publicly Traded Owners,” would have repealed a provision that prohibits publicly traded entities from holding a cannabis business license in Colorado, as well as repealing current provisions that limit the number of out-of-state direct beneficial owners to 15 people and repealing the current provision that requires limited passive investors in a cannabis business to go through an initial background check prior to Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) approval. HB18-1011 would have also created two new ownership licenses, for controlling beneficial owners and passive beneficial owners, and would have also led to a new cannabis investment category – indirect financial interest holder.
To be honest, this bill, had it passed, may have had the potential to decimate the Colorado cannabis industry as we know it, and as a result, Governor Hickenlooper may have made the best decision for the industry in vetoing this bill. It is our firm belief that opening the door to publicly traded companies is a real risk for the Colorado Cannabis industry… no one wants Monsanto or Pfizer in charge of their cannabis. The industry needs better access to capital, this is an undeniable truth and the lack of viable funding options IS CRIPPLING many of our businesses, but trying to compete with behemoths like Philip Morris, Amazon, and the previously mentioned Monsanto and Pfizer is simply not tenable at this moment. We urge the legislature to explore other ways to lessen the financial burden on our homegrown (pun intended) small businesses in the cannabis space. Colorado has a duty to continue to be the pioneer in this grand experiment.