Last week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis appointed Ean Seeb, a ten-year veteran of the cannabis industry, to take charge of the state's legal weed policy under the title "Special Adviser on Cannabis." Polis' decision to tap an industry insider for this important position marks a welcome change from the administration of former Governor John Hickenlooper, who relied on politicians and law enforcement officials to take charge of marijuana policy.
Seeb has been working in Colorado’s cannabis industry for over a decade, co-owning a dispensary in Denver before co-founding Denver Relief Consulting, a firm that advises cannabis business owners about relevant laws and regulations. Seeb has also served two terms as chair of the National Cannabis Industry Association. The governor’s office reports that the new appointee ended all of his current cannabis industry partnerships and relationships before taking office.
“Ean is a leader in the cannabis industry, and we are thrilled to have him on our team," said Lisa Kaufmann, chief of staff, in a statement. "We welcome his incredible expertise and know he will help us continue Colorado’s leadership in this growing industry.”
In his new role as Special Adviser on Cannabis, Seeb will serve as a liaison with state agencies that handle cannabis regulation and enforcement, and will also advise the governor on any marijuana-related bills that come to his desk for a signature. Governor Hickenlooper previously appointed three different people to serve as his Director of Marijuana Coordination, a similar role.
Dominique Mendiola, who was appointed as Director of Marijuana Coordination last summer, has served as the Deputy Director of the Marijuana Enforcement Division since 2014, the year that Colorado began allowing adult-use businesses to open. The former governor's first pick as weed policy director, Andrew Freeman, left in 2017 to start his own weed consulting business. And his replacement, Mark Bolton, left to become a consultant at a law firm.
“To move from someone with a law enforcement background to an industry mindset is significant,” Sam Kamin, University of Denver cannabis law and policy professor, told The Denver Post. “To have a person [from the industry] who has the governor’s ear would be a break from the past."