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Mysterious Player Shakes Up Marijuana Game

The name appeared out of nowhere, unfamiliar to the players who have worked for months to influence how recreational marijuana will be regulated in Colorado.

On March 28, someone named Matt Taylor hired high-powered lobbying firm Axiom Strategies to work on “marijuana issues,” records show. Taylor has since expanded his lobbying team to rival that of anyone with a stake in adult-use marijuana legalized by Amendment 64 in November.

“No one knows who he is, and with a name like that, no one has been able to find out much,” said Joe Megyesy, who lobbies for a law firm that specializes in marijuana and for the Marijuana Policy Project, the main funder of the Amendment 64 campaign. “I haven’t seen anything like it — but we’ve never seen anything like Amendment 64.”

Colorado’s marijuana mystery man, it turns out, describes himself as a former Marine and failed race-car driver who made his wealth in home heating oil on the East Coast and wants to get in on the ground floor of a budding industry worth untold millions in his home state.

Big Spender

The appearance of a new, big-spending character comes at a key moment as Colorado enters unchartered territory of legalized pot. Disparate interests and unlikely alliances are trying to shape the rules that will determine who can enter a highly lucrative business and how the market will be structured.

Marijuana interests — led by medical marijuana business groups and dispensaries — already have paid at least $137,475 to lobbyists in the fiscal year that began in June, a Denver Post analysis found.

And the real battle has not begun: Bills in the General Assembly to establish rules for recreational pot have yet to be introduced, and fewer than three weeks remain in the session.

One issue has proven especially controversial: whether to let recreational pot stores and commercial growers operate independently.


Complete Article:

Source: Denver Post (CO)
Author: Eric Gorski, The Denver Post
Published: April 19, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Denver Post

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