Democratic state Senate candidate Alan Kennedy-Shaffer targeting pot customers with campaign ads


In what could be a first, Democrat Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, one of five Democrats running for an open state Senate seat in next year’s election, plans to start running campaign ads through the primary on video screens at marijuana dispensaries throughout the Denver district.

Kennedy-Shaffer told Colorado Politics his campaign ads touting the attorney as a “Cannabis Champion” and the “voice of the cannabis community” should start appearing in January on the in-store TV network operated in pot shops by Boulder-based GreenScreens (motto: “We turn your walls into money”). The company’s screens are operating in about a dozen dispensaries in Senate District 34, he said.

Advertising in dispensaries — in front of a captive audience typically standing in notoriously slow check-out lines — is a chance, Kennedy-Shaffer said, to direct his message to voters who are more than likely progressive and understand the federal government could threaten legalized marijuana but might not be attuned to local candidates.

He added that GreenScreens CEO Ryan Sterling thinks this will be the first time direct political advertising for a pro-cannabis candidate has been done at licensed cannabis establishments.

Four other Democrats are running for the heavily Democratic seat held by term-limited Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, a Denver Democrat. The others in the race are Julie Gonzales, Jonah Weiss, Jennifer Calderone and Edward “Milo” Schwab, who filed to run for the seat in late November. State Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat facing term limits in his House district, has said he’s considering a run in the Senate district.

In a draft ad obtained by Colorado Politics, Kennedy-Shaffer calls himself a champion of marijuana legalization, points out that he’s sued President Donald Trump — “and won!” — and supports both “cannabis banking” and equitable treatment of the industry by the IRS.

Kennedy-Shaffer said he wants the state to charter a bank for pot businesses that can’t use federally chartered banks because the feds still classify the drug as a controlled substance. In addition, Kennedy-Shaffer is among numerous advocates who wants to repeal a section of the tax code that won’t allow pot businesses to deduct operating expenses the way most businesses can.

As for suing Trump, Kennedy-Shaffer has represented plaintiffs who have sued the Trump administration over the first version of the president’s travel ban and a rule change that allows employers to deny birth control coverage through their employees’ insurance plans. Kennedy-Shaffer’s client won the first lawsuit while a verdict is pending in the second.

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