Colorado's then-director of marijuana coordination Andrew Freedman and former Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division chief Lewis Koski address the Denver Marijuana Management Symposium in 2015. This year's panel will have more international speakers. (Joshua Duplechian, courtesy of the City of Denver)

Denver gets a little help from other states, nations as it hosts annual marijuana regulatory conference

Denver once again will play both host and marijuana authority to policy makers from around the globe seeking to learn the nuts and bolts — and the twists and turns — of cannabis legalization.

But this time around, the brain trust extends well beyond Colorado.

The city and county of Denver will conduct its Marijuana Management Symposium from Oct. 18 to 20. More than 350 public policy makers are expected to attend the conference that will include panelists from seven states and four countries that have legalized or are planning to legalize marijuana.

The third iteration of the conference will include two full days of educational panel discussions covering topics such as law enforcement, community health, youth prevention, permitting, fire safety, finance, licensing and technology. The symposium is preceded by a day of optional tours of marijuana businesses.

“There are lots of conferences these days on the subject of cannabis, but this is the only true regulator workshop,” Dan Rowland, a city of Denver spokesman, wrote in an email to The Cannabist. “By the public sector, for the public sector, focusing on how we can all responsibly tackle the challenges that come with implementing and regulating the newly legalized and commercialized cannabis industry.

In 2014, two years after Colorado voters approved a ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana, Colorado became the first U.S. state to implement and regulate legal sales of cannabis for adult-use. In turn, Colorado became a de facto resource for other states and nations facing the legalization of all or some aspects of a substance that remains illegal under federal law.

Since Colorado’s adult-use sales began, the state has gained plenty more company.

Domestically, four other states have launched recreational cannabis sales while three others — most notably, California — have regimes in the works. Internationally, Canada and Uruguay are among a slew of countries that have adopted legal marijuana programs.

The sea-change is reflected in this year’s Denver regulatory symposium in which the panelists represent seven states and four countries, Rowland said.

The national and international round-table discussions will include representatives from Alaska, California, Nevada, Canada, The Netherlands and Uruguay, according to the conference agenda.