Tom Downey



Tom Downey



Tom Downey is a Director at Ireland Stapleton Pryor & Pascoe, PC. With his significant experience as both a government official and private attorney, Mr. Downey helps his clients navigate all aspects of regulatory law. The majority of his practice consists of advising and representing corporate clients in the administrative, transactional and disciplinary processes related to liquor licensing, legalized marijuana and licenses governed by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Further, he represents investors, creditors, developers, intellectual property holders and others in and around licensed industries. In providing full services to his clients, Mr. Downey conducts a great deal of zoning, code enforcement and public policy work.

Previously, Mr. Downey led Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, issuing and regulating 25,000 business licenses in Denver in 180 categories. During that time, he redrafted Denver’s Policies and Procedures for liquor licensing and wrote the original Policies and Procedures for Denver’s legalized recreational marijuana licenses. Governor Hickenlooper appointed him to advise the administration and General Assembly on the legislation creating recreational marijuana. He created and ran the Business and Licensing Division of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. He also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Business and Licensing Section under A.G. Ken Salazar. His higher profile cases included the Congressional Redistricting, State Reapportionment, the GAVEL Amendment and the Blue Book battles. Mr. Downey routinely teaches Continuing Legal Education courses and gives other presentations on regulatory and licensing law around the country. Recently, he sat on the Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Licensing, and Permitted Economic Interest Rulemaking committee.

Mr. Downey started his legal career clerking for Judge D. Warren Donohue on the Circuit Court of Maryland. During law school, he spent the summer of 1992 in Budapest as a consultant to a founding member of FIDEZ, the first opposition party in Hungary, in preparing to redraft their constitution. He worked for a Congressman prior to law school. Mr. Downey and his wife, Lori Fox, have three young daughters, Cate, Ella and Meg, who are amazing singers and songwriters.

Presentations & Publications

  • Speaker, “Legalized Marijuana and Hemp/CBD: What Colorado Businesses Need to Know,” City Club of Denver, Febraury 25, 2020
  • Co-Author, “Fair Labor Standards Act Protections Apply to Employees of Marijuana Companies”, November 27, 2019
  • Co-Author, “Opinion: The Trump impeachment inquiry doesn’t begin to compare to the mayhem of the very first one,” The Colorado Sun, Opinion Columns, October 13, 2019
  • Speaker, “CBDooo or Don’t Nonprofits & Marijuana Philanthropy,” Estes Park Nonprofit Camp, September 30, 2019
  • Speaker, “An Overview of Legal Marijuana,” Philadelphia Marijuana and Hemp Symposium, March 22, 2019
  • Moderator, “The Future of RiNo Development,” BusinessDen, February 19, 2019
  • Author, “Opinion: Federal marijuana legalization may not be the dream scenario some imagine,” The Colorado Sun, Opinion Columns, December 23, 2018
  • Panelist, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA)’s Art + Cannabis Forum, November 29, 2018
  • Co-author, “Bankruptcy and State Alternatives for Marijuana Businesses,” September 7, 2018
  • Panelist, “The Enduring Manifestations of Prohibition,” Cannabis Law Institute, September 7, 2018
  • Program Chair, Recreational Marijuana – The Impact of Federal Enforcement on Colorado, CLE Course, Colorado Law Institute, May 17, 2018
  • Co-Presenter, “Rescheduling Versus Descheduling – The Impact of Legalization,” Colorado Law Institute, May 17, 2018
  • Co-Presenter, “US Attorney Jeff Sessions and Marijuana Policy – What Will It Mean for the Industry?,” May 17, 2018
  • Speaker, “An Overview of Legal Marijuana,” Mesa County Bar Association Luncheon, April 23, 2018
  • Speaker, “A Changing Landscape: The Federal Update,” Pennsylvania Bar Association, March 16, 2018
  • Speaker, “X-TEAM: An Overview of Legal Marijuana,” X-Team Conference, February 8, 2018
  • Tom Downey’s complete list of presentations and publications can be found here.


  • City Club of Denver, Member
  • Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Public Policy Forum
  • Marijuana Enforcement Division’s Licensing, and Permitted Economic Interest Stakeholder Work Group (August 2015)
  • Governor Hickenlooper’s Amendment 64 (Recreational Marijuana) legislative advisory committee (2013)
  • Denver Taxi and Limo Council, Chair (2012-2013)
  • Denver Medical Marijuana Working Group, Founder (2011-2012)
  • Governor Ritter Transition Team, Regulatory Agencies (2006)
  • Mayor’s Leadership Team on Early Childhood Education (2004-2006)
  • I-300 Marijuana Social Consumption Area Task Force, Member

Community Involvement

Mr. Downey strongly believes in engaging in our community. He took a break from government and legal work for five years to run the Children’s Museum of Denver. He is the Past Board Chair of the Colorado Nonprofit Association and the former Board Chair of the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In 2000, Tom managed the Gore/Lieberman presidential campaign in Colorado. In 1986, Tom ran a children’s home in Venezuela, “La Ciudad del los Muchachos.”

  • Westerly Creek Metropolitan District, Board Member (Elected 2014)
  • Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, Livingston Fellow (2007-present) (focus: Creation of management theory, an execution model of Jim Collins’ Good to Great principles)
  • LoDo District, Board Member (2005–present)
  • Emerging Leaders in Development program, Steering Committee (2010)
  • Colorado Nonprofit Association, Board Member (2006–2012, Chair 2008-2010)
  • Heritage 365 Magazine, Editorial Advisory Committee (2006–2009)
  • Nonprofit Resources, Inc., Board Member (2006–2008)
  • American Association of Museums, Co-Chair, Host Committee 2008 Conference
  • Denver Preschool Program, Board of Advisors (2007)
  • DPS Capital Needs Committee (2005–2007)
  • Citizens for Denver Public Schools (2003)
  • Leadership Denver (1999)


Contact Info

Practice Areas


  • University of Pennsylvania, Wharton Business School Executive Education Program – High Impact Leaders (non-degree), 2009
  • Villanova School of Law J.D., 1993, Vice-Chair, Villanova Law School Honor Board Vice–President, Villanova Law School Women’s Law Caucus President, Villanova Law School Rugby Club
  • College of William and Mary Bachelor of Arts in Economics, 1989

Honors & Awards

  • Law Week Colorado’s 2018 “Barrister’s Best” list – People’s Choice for Marijuana Law
  • Selected to The Best Lawyers in America® for Regulatory Law
  • 2016-2018 Top Lawyer for Marijuana Law, 5280 Magazine
  • Westword’s 2013 “Best of Denver” award for customer service
  • Denver 150 Unsung Heroes Award (2008)
  • Mile High United Way’s “Anna Jo Haynes Care About Kids Award” (2006)
  • Ballard Spahr’s National Pro Bono Attorney of the Year (2002)
  • Denver Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 (2002)
  • Villanova Law School, Herman Mitchell Schwartz Award Recipient for the most significant contribution to the achievement of equality of opportunity and treatment for women in the legal community
  • Knights of Columbus Patriotism Award (1983)
  • Admissions

    • Admitted to practice in Colorado
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado