Business of Marijuana

As a strategy and management scholar with research interests in non-market strategy, public policy, and regulation I see the legal marijuana industry as an important research subject. As a professor who teaches courses on public policy and business I also see the industry as a highly relevant and important classroom subject. My affiliation with the Daniels College of Business and my location in Denver, Colorado provide an ideal vantage point to study this industry.

Colorado Marijuana Market Report

In December 2016, I published the first Colorado Marijuana Market Report, based on analysis of marijuana license data from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) from Jan2013-Dec 2016. A press release, video interview and full copy of this report is available at The December report received coverage in a variety of print and online media outlets including Denver’s 9News and MJINews.

In April 2017, another version of the market report was released. 7News Denver (ABC) covered the report on April 26th.

In August 2017, I released the 3rd edition of the market report. Please contact me if you would like to receive a copy of any version of this report.

Map of Colorado Marijuana Licenses

NOW AVAILABLE: Interactive Map of August 2017 Colorado License Data
(you may need to create a Mapline account to access)

Other Industry Outreach

In April 2017 I spoke about the marijuana industry with the Center for Work Education and Employment (CWEE), Colorado’s first 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that assists low-income single families in gaining the skills and education necessary to transition off of public assistance and gain long-term employment.

In June 2017 I was interviewed by the Boston Globe regarding a debate over recreational marijuana taxes in Massachusetts and by the Toronto Star regarding Canada’s upcoming legalization of marijuana. In May 2017 I was interviewed by the Denver Post regarding proposed changes to Colorado’s state recreational taxes. In September 2016 I was interviewed by 9News regarding the recent drop in marijuana prices in Colorado and the potential impact of these lower prices on the industry, Colorado’s economy and the general public.


  • In Spring 2017, I taught the first-ever “Business of Marijuana” elective course at the Daniels College of Business. The course examines various business aspects of the industry including management, accounting, finance, marketing, ethics, and others. It combines relevant analysis of the industry with a wide range of guest speakers who are currently involved and affected by Colorado’s marijuana industry. Our initial guest speakers included Michael Elliott, Sam Kamin, Wanda James, Nick Richards, Kayvan Khalatbari, Tripp Keber, Lauren Ginsberg, Mason Tvert, and a number of others. The course is only open to students enrolled at the University of Denver but a copy of the course syllabus is available upon request. The course has received considerable media and industry attention:
  • In April 2016 I participated in a session at the DU 4/20 Marijuana Summit hosted by the Sturm College of Law entitled “50 Shades of Green” and focused on the business impacts of marijuana. My presentation in the session highlighted the many counter-intuitive strategies being employed by industry participants and examined the forces that will determine whether the industry evolves in a manner similar to breweries/alcohol, tobacco or takes another path. A video of the “50 Shades of Green” session is available online and my slides and comments from this session are available upon request.
  • In 2013, I published one of the first, if not the first, business teaching cases on the Marijuana industry, Medical Marijuana Industry Group: Outdoor Advertising in Denver. The case is based on a proposal from Denver City Council to restrict outdoor advertising of marijuana in the City and County of Denver and the subsequent responses of affected stakeholder groups, in particular the Medical Marijuana Industry Group led by executive director Michael Elliot. The teaching note/instructor’s manual for the case is available upon request.

Academic Research

I currently have three academic research projects underway that focus on the marijuana industry:

  1. The first project examines the corporate political activity of the individuals and companies involved in the marijuana industry. Do the campaign contributions of industry participants follow the patterns seen in other industries or are they influenced by unique factors such as the social justice impacts of this new industry.
  2. The second project examines the industry identity formation process being experienced by the Colorado marijuana industry. What specific stakeholders within business, government and society are having the most impact on industry identity? What different industry identities are being advanced by these stakeholders and how much cohesion or conflict exists among these identities?
  3. The third project examines the evolution of the marijuana industry’s structure in terms of both expansion, consolidation, geographic location, etc. To what extent is the industry’s evolution following the pattern of other industries such as tobacco, alcohol, or pharmaceutical drugs, and what is unique about this evolution?

At the Academy of Management 2015 Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC my Daniels management colleague Aimee Hamilton and I co-organized a showcase symposium titled “High Hopes: Studying the Emergence of the Legitimate Marijuana Industry” focused on academic research related to the marijuana industry with participants from a variety of prominent business schools including the University of Minnesota, University of Virginia, University of Oregon, Pennsylvania State University and Case Western Reserve University.

At the 2015 Strategic Management Society Annual Conference in Denver, Colorado, I worked with Eva Yao of University of Colorado and Josh Keller of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore to offer a one-day pre-conference workshop on the Marijuana Industry that included industry and academic panels, keynote speakers and a site-visit to two Denver-area businesses (Dixie Elixirs and Medicine Man). During the SMS conference program I chaired and moderated a showcase panel featuring Tripp Keber, CEO of Dixie Elixirs, Andrew Freedman, Marijuana Coordinator for the State of Colorado, Diane Carlson of social interest group SMART Colorado and Dr. Vioina Rindova of the University of Texas-Austin.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with academic, media or industry requests.