Kelly Brough Reelworks election night

Denver mayoral candidate Kelly Brough meets with reporters at Reelworks Denver before polls close in the first round of voting on April 4, 2023. Brough finished in second, qualifying for the June 6 runoff with Mike Johnston.

The state's largest marijuana trade association on Thursday endorsed Kelly Brough in Denver's mayoral runoff, her campaign announced.

The endorsement by the Wheat Ridge-based Marijuana Industry Group — which represents businesses holding more than 500 marijuana licenses in Colorado — marks the first time the state's pot industry has backed a candidate, Brough's campaign said.

Tiffany Goldman, the trade group's board chair and a co-owner of The Health Center, which operates two recreational marijuana stores in Denver and one in Boulder, cited Brough's background in business in a statement.

“Kelly brings a refreshing openness to our issues, and as a successful businessperson, she truly understands the hardships and financial issues the cannabis industry is facing," Goldman said.

"She will champion the cannabis patients, customers, employees and small businesses as important voices that help make Denver great and prosperous, and we believe she has the leadership skills to get this city on the right track.”

Brough, a former CEO of the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, finished second in the April 4 municipal election. She faces former state Sen. Mike Johnston in the June 6 runoff.

Brough noted in a release that she worked closely with the marijuana industry at the chamber of commerce.

“And as mayor, I will continue to support them, as I will for all businesses in Denver," she said. "With my executive experience, I know we can fast-track community planning, permitting and inspections, which will help all businesses."

Brough struck a personal note in her statement.

“My girls lost their dad to suicide after a long struggle with addiction," she said. "As such, I have personal reservations about any and all substance use. That said, cannabis is legal in Colorado and my priority as mayor would be to faithfully uphold the laws and create a business-friendly atmosphere that will allow Denver’s economy to grow and thrive.”

Recreational marijuana sales in Denver and statewide have been down since their peak in 2020. In Denver, sales fell in February from $31.7 million for the same month a year earlier to $27.4 million this year, the Colorado Department of Revenue reported.

Amid tumbling sales — statewide, year-over-year sales were down more than 30% since 2021 in January, according to department reports — the industry has shed more 10,000 jobs in Colorado in the last year, leaving 27,856 workers employed by the state's legal cannabis businesses, High Times reported last week.

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