Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christopher Jones


State regulators have the task of promulgating regulations for multiple heavily regulated industries, but there is a dearth of research to help public policy makers better understand how rulemaking processes are perceived by stakeholders in those processes. Regulators who promulgated rules for the legalization of marijuana in Colorado used both required and discretionary methods of participation in rulemaking to involve stakeholders with multiple competing interests. This qualitative research study was based on a phenomenological approach and interview data from 10 stakeholders who participated in the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division's rulemaking processes between 2013 and 2016. The purpose of this study was to better understand the shared and lived experience of those stakeholders during a unique and historic time in state rulemaking. The findings suggested that both the cannabis industry stakeholders and public interest stakeholders were able to influence the final regulations. Respondents reported that they were also able to influence the regulation design and formation, and attributed their influence to the processes that allowed for dialog among and between stakeholders and government officials. The implications for positive social change include: the potential use of tools, such as working groups and informal meetings with regulators, as an alternative to the current political narrative; the positive impacts of proactive outreach to diverse stakeholders; enhanced rulemaking planning and implementation; and, greater buy-in and support for more collaborative rulemaking processes across regulated industries.