When customers arrived at the Green Solutions cannabis dispensary in Edgewater, they were greeted by a colorful tent with a display of WANA Brands gummies and other fun games. What they didn’t expect was to be asked, “Are you registered to vote?”
WANA Brands and the League of Women Voters have teamed up to get more young people registering for the November general election. WANA has supported the League of Women Voters through donations in the past. But this is the first time the two organizations have collaborated on a voter registration event in Colorado, according to event officials.
WANA’s senior director of corporate social responsibility, Karla Rodriguez, said she hoped to connect with young people at the clinics. Data from the Colorado Secretary of State shows that turnout for this demographic was low in this year’s primary election.
“We see this unique opportunity to connect and be that bridge between this younger demographic that hasn’t been as engaged,” Rodrigez said.
Brian Holloway falls into this category. He moved from Kansas City to metro Denver two years ago and said he never had time to register to vote in Colorado because he thought it would be difficult. But at Friday’s event, he found signing up simple.
“It was super easy,” Holloway said. “They timed it. So it was actually four minutes.
The League of Women Voters has been running voter registration drives across the country for 102 years, said League Voter Services Co-Chair Anne Duncan. Their most successful campaigns have taken place in jails and prisons. During the 2020 general election, the organization helped in-person voting at Denver County jails as part of the Confined Voting Program, which ensures all eligible voters have access to register and participate in the electoral process.
Ducan said the League also hopes to register those affected by previous marijuana laws.
“We’re looking for places where people may not be registered or may have moved,” Duncan said. “When someone is in jail for a crime, they can still vote.”
Social equity businesses have been a hot topic in the cannabis industry. To qualify for a social equity business license, Colorado residents must not have previously owned a cannabis business. They must reside for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2019 in an opportunity area or disproportionately affected area and have a marijuana conviction on their criminal record.
“There are many ways to think about social equity and one of the most powerful ways to move the needle is to vote and raise your voice in this area,” said WANA’s Rodriguez. “If you look at the zoning of dispensaries, they’re often in red zones.”
WANA and the League of Women Voters plan to hold voter registration drives at other cannabis dispensaries around metro Denver. They also plan to hold them at radiation clinics in September.