Colorado cannabis industry veteran and regulatory expert Todd Mitchem is ready for a change. This time, the former O.pen Vape chief revenue officer and head of public and government relations and co-founder of cannabis consulting firm TMC Partners Government Affairs isn’t starting a new legal weed venture. Instead, he plans on leaving the private sector all together for a shot in public interest.
According to Westword, Colorado’s current 2nd District Congressman and vocal cannabis supporter Jared Polis is abandoning his seat next year for a run at the Centennial State’s governor’s mansion, leaving a gap that Mitchem hopes to fill. Mitchem announced his intentions on his Twitter page late last week, noting that he will run as a Libertarian.
"I've done a lot for work in the [marijuana] industry, but when Trump was elected and I saw the mess around Jeff Sessions and the pushback against the industry, it just showed how much of a mess the federal government is," Mitchem said. "But what's really motivating me isn't just marijuana issues. It's all these issues impacting our community. What's affected me the most is health care. My family's premiums have risen about $700."
Mitchem has never been shy about his opposition to federal threats to state-approved cannabis industries, even penning an op-ed article earlier this year challenging Sessions’ claims that legalization has brought more black market cannabis activity to Colorado. Mitchem also hopes that his experience dealing with the regulatory hoops and constant pushback against legal weed can help him in Washington.
"Since I have come into the marijuana industry, I've realized it's one of the most exciting while also the most challenging industries I've ever been a part of," Mitchem told Westword. "It makes you have to learn how to work with the government day in and day out in a bipartisan way."
And with Colorado’s 2nd District constituents already on-board with Polis’ pro-cannabis views and advocacy, Mitchem doesn’t see his candidacy as a moonshot, even with his lack of traditional political experience.
"[Rep. Polis] tends to be more of a Libertarian-leaning Democrat. For me, it really primed the move," Mitchem said. "I think it's a good opportunity to step in."
Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District includes the counties of Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Larimer and Summit.