A test case for the industry’s political muscle will be the campaign of Mr. Polis, a Boulder congressman who is running for governor as an unabashed supporter of the cannabis community. He tours cannabis testing laboratories with the ease of someone who could be a budtender himself, and signals to marijuana business owners that, if elected, he would ease the bureaucracy that many view as overly burdensome.

Before his career in politics, Mr. Polis grew wealthy discovering untapped markets for his family’s greeting-card business and an online floristry, and he has brought a similar entrepreneurial approach to the governor’s race printing campaign literature on hemp paper, spelling out his name with marijuana leaves on another flyer, and hiring a full-time “cannabis outreach coordinator” to tend to the industry’s concerns.

“Other politicians must realize that this is a winning issue for candidates to run on,” Mr. Polis said in an interview. He added that he wanted to “open the door for other candidates to welcome the support of the cannabis industry who may keep them at arms length today.”

Mr. Polis, one of the founding heads of Congressional Cannabis Caucus on Capitol Hill, is the only Colorado candidate for governor in either party who supported marijuana legalization in 2012; his rivals have offered mostly reserved praise for the industry. Mr. Polis’s main Democratic opponent, former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, once said the “jury is out” on the industry, and has largely shied away from making cannabis-related issues a campaign feature. The leading Republican candidate, state treasurer Walker Stapleton, has said repealing legalization was not a “realistic option,” but that he felt the industry needed “better guardrails.”

Some members of the state’s marijuana industry see Mr. Polis’s fate in Tuesday’s primary as intimately vital to their own. Victory could lead to greater respect among lawmakers, they

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