The Marijuana Czar of Colorado

Outside of work, Andrew Freedman tries not to tell anyone about his job. Not because it’s a top-secret government position; yes, it’s a government job, but probably one you never knew existed.

His official, jargon-y title is director of marijuana coordination for Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado—a title that didn’t exist before he got the job in February 2014. But he may be better known as his unofficial, colloquial title: marijuana czar.

“[Telling people what I do] has ruined almost every dinner conversation I’ve had,” Freedman says. “Sometimes I get caught up in a pro- or anti-legalization debate, so I’ve witnessed everything from admiration to anger.”

Colorado made history when it became the first U.S. state to legalize the recreational use and sale of marijuana in 2014, but Freedman steers clear of advocating for or against legalization. Here’s how he got the job, the challenges he faces, and why half-baked ideas (sorry, had to) for getting rich quick off Colorado’s pot market don’t usually pan out.

meeting

The otherwise nondescript office where Freedman (left) works has some old prohibition posters hanging, to remind them of where they are historically.

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