20 Under 40: Paul James follows passion to council seat, establishment of new area industry | CraigDailyPress.com

20 Under 40: Paul James follows passion to council seat, establishment of new area industry

Andy Bockelman
For Craig Press
Paul James leans against the custom rock sign along Fourth Street that welcomes people to Craig City Hall. James was elected to Craig City Council in 2019 as a proponent for recreational marijuana sales in the city. He is also the general manager of Rocky Mountain Cannabis. (Andy Bockelman / For Craig Press)

When Colorado voters approved Amendment 64 nearly a decade ago to establish new rules for the growth and sales of recreational cannabis, much of Moffat County’s populace was hesitant to jump on the bandwagon.

However, one of the most fervent local supporters of the idea was Paul James, whose own experience in the medical marijuana field had him enthused about the prospect of expanding the legalization of the substance.

Bringing people around to the idea was an uphill battle — as was the prospect of officially putting recreational sales on the ballot — but James was able to gain momentum for his cause in a new way when he successfully ran for Craig City Council in the 2019 municipal election. His goal to allow constituents to voice their choice on the issue came to fruition later that year as the November election posed the question of taxation, retail sales and additional business concerns for recreational marijuana within city limits.

The answer was a resounding yes.

James’s subsequent involvement with the downtown shop Rocky Mountain Cannabis — of which he is general manager for the Craig location — led him to abstain from approval of licenses for potential businesses in the field to avoid a conflict of interest.

Since finding his way to council, James has striven to be a strong representative for locals and promoting the value of personal choice and responsible governance.

What is on your playlist? Everything from the Rolling Stones to the Mad Caddies. Typically I enjoy classic rock, ska, and bluegrass.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Persistent and motivated, yet comical.

Best book you have read? “Ishmael,” by Daniel Quinn

What’s your favorite go-to local dish? I’m unable to pick one, so I would say it’s a toss-up between the Gator sandwich at The Seasoned Brisket and the chicken fajita burrito from Vallarta’s.

What is it about Moffat County that sticks out to you when you think of home? I would have to say all of the warm and friendly faces I see throughout town. Every time I’m out, whether it’s sitting down for a meal or shopping for groceries, I always see someone to have a good-hearted conversation with.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your personal or professional accomplishments here? The No. 1 thing would be growing up essentially a nobody and putting in the time and effort to get elected to City Council, and then working on bringing the first new industry to Craig in many years, the recreational cannabis industry.

For a close second, I was interviewed in USA Today a couple years ago and my response there got me hateful emails and messages from around the country for a couple weeks — that was a personal favorite of mine.

How do you hope to grow both personally and professionally in 2021? The answer to both for me is to continue teaching people that humans by nature are meant to be wild and free, and voluntaryism is the way to peace, prosperity and freedom. Also, personally it would be nice to take a little more time for myself, but I’m not counting on that one!

What is the best business advice you have ever received? Only losers are afraid to lose. Persistence and an open mind are the keys to success, and don’t get caught up on the opinions of others.

With people looking to move out of the city and into smaller communities, what advice would you give to those 40 and under moving to Moffat County? I’m always excited to see new faces in town. My suggestion is to come to Moffat because you love the people and the community, rather than trying to change it into the place that you just left. Aside from that, just make sure you work hard and treat people with kindness, and you will surely be welcomed to the community with open arms!

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