Vicente Sederberg Featured in Denver Business Journal Cover Story

Apr 19, 2022

We are extremely proud to be featured in the cover story of this week’s issue of the Denver Business Journal, which is out just in time for 4/20. It recounts the closely intertwined origins and growth of Vicente Sederberg and the legal cannabis market in Colorado and beyond.

While it took nearly a century's worth of activists, compassionate care advocates, Top 40 hits celebrating the plant and brave politicians to turn the tide on cannabis legalization in Colorado, there's one Denver-based law firm formed by a motley crew that can take much of the credit for this tide change: Vicente Sederberg .

The firm wrote Colorado's Amendment 64 and Mason Tvert, a communications advisor to the firm, co-directed the ultimately successful campaign that won the popular vote in Colorado by 10 points, 55-45.

“My most vivid memory was when the TV newscasters announced we had won," the firm's founding partner Brian Vicente told Denver Business Journal. "It was incredible to be in a room of campaign volunteers and supporters, some of whom had spent time in jail for marijuana, sharing in that collective moment and knowing that we had changed the course of history.”

Continue reading at the Denver Business Journal.

In addition to exploring how the cannabis space has changed over the past decade, the feature looks forward to what is next, with leaders of VS and its consulting affiliate, VS Strategies, sharing what they found most surprising and what they see on the horizon. The following are excerpts of their responses to the two questions:

Josh Kappel, founding partner, Vicente Sederberg

What’s next: Psilocybin. There is a lot of exciting research coming out about the therapeutic benefits of psilocybin and other natural psychedelics, which appear to hold a lot of promise for alleviating our nation’s mental health crisis. Now that policymakers and the public are revisiting the laws around these natural medicines, it will be interesting to see how policy evolves at the federal, state, and local levels.

Christian Sederberg, founding partner, Vicente Sederberg

What’s next: Federal legalization and globalization. We are working hard to get movement on cannabis policy at the federal level, but it is a huge challenge due to the complexity of the relevant issues and the unfortunate state of politics in Washington, D.C. We are also closely watching and engaging on the expansion of medical and adult-use cannabis markets around the world, as things have begun to move very quickly on multiple continents.

Brian Vicente, founding partner, Vicente Sederberg

Surprised: Elected officials supporting legalization. Our efforts to legalize cannabis in Colorado faced frequent and often overwhelming opposition from government officials. It was quite surprising when, after election day, many of these electeds did an about-face on legalization. Several of them, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and former governor and now Sen. John Hickenlooper, have since become strong public supporters.

Shawn Hauser, partner, Vicente Sederberg

What’s next: Industrial hemp. As the U.S. hemp industry matures and develops its infrastructure of fiber and grain processing facilities, we will see the rise of products like hempcrete, hemp plastics and biofuels, and other environmentally sustainable innovations. I’m also watching for continued research around promising minor cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, THC-V, and others that continue to be discovered.

Mason Tvert, partner, VS Strategies

What’s next: Education. There is still a need for non-judgmental, evidence-based information from trusted messengers. Several businesses, trade associations and advocacy groups have done a good job getting information out and raising awareness, and hopefully there will soon be efforts underway to get a more well-funded, wide-scale campaign off the ground.

Jordan Wellington, partner, VS Strategies

Surprised: Cannabis science. The reduction in stigmatization of cannabis consumers has exceeded my hopes and expectations. Whether it’s professional sports leagues changing their cannabis testing policies or community leaders feeling comfortable enough to publicly discuss their cannabis use, we are steadily closing the gap between how we view cannabis consumers and alcohol consumers.

Read everyone's full responses to both questions at the Denver Business Journal.

Finally, we were touched to see the publication included an “In memoriam” for our dear friend and colleague Steve Fox, who played a truly critical role at our firm and in the cannabis policy reform movement:

Steve Fox, who co-founded VS Strategies, died at the age of 53 in April 2021. Fox is seen by many drug-policy advocates as a pioneer and visionary. He co-founded SAFER with Mason Tvert and Aaron Houston, and served as managing partner at VS Strategies. He joined Marijuana Policy Project in 2002, serving as the sole lobbyist on Capitol Hill working full time on cannabis issues. He was among the lead drafters of Amendment 64 and was instrumental in establishing organizations like the National Cannabis Industry Association and the U.S. Cannabis Council.

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