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About Colorado Kind
Kelly has been a lifelong advocate for social justice and community engagement, but not a proponent of legal cannabis, citing her position towards it as agnostic -- except with regards to the negative impacts of the Drug War. In her role as human services policy advisor for Colorado Governor Hickenlooper, she worked on the prevention of prescription and opioid abuse through a public health framework. Bringing together stakeholders to develop a coordinated approach prepared her to view recreational marijuana legalization in 2014 with a similar, pragmatic perspective. Ultimately, Kelly was able to contribute a great deal to how Colorado state leaders managed cannabis policy in a way that promotes harm reduction and promotes responsible policy.Over the next couple of years, as the City of Denver zoning policy led to cannabis facilities to be concentrated along the north and west edges of the city, Kelly began noticing that communities of color, with the highest concentration of poverty, were the ones zoned for cannabis grows and manufacturing. With her understanding of policy and increasing dissatisfaction of how the policy was practiced at the local level, Kelly hoped to build a bridge between communities that have been historically impacted by the War on Drugs and the industry - which was becoming the unfortunate recipient of the blame. kindColorado began to take shape and conversations of mutual benefit between communities and the cannabis sector emerged. Meanwhile, Rich Male, the grandfather of the Colorado nonprofit sector, Courtney’s mentor and Kelly’s colleague, noticed parallel discussions happening among the social entrepeneurs and made an introduction. Reducing Barriers for Participation Courtney spent years working in the nonprofit sector and is an ardent legalization advocate. Beginning in 2009 she observed an ongoing misunderstanding of cannabis culture from her nonprofit peers and saw many nonprofit agencies struggle to respectfully court cannabis businesses for philanthropic partnership. In addition to nonprofit leaders and boards, she also witnessed community leaders leverage negative stereotypes that created barriers for meaningful dialogue between industry leaders and community-serving agencies. Aware that both nonprofits and cannabis businesses were missing an opportunity to collaborate, she began working to create pathways for them to partner. Courtney believed that the industry’s involvement in the nonprofit sector would not only provide much needed creativity and support for nonprofit missions, but would also allow opportunities for the cannabis industry to become demystified and humanized. With Courtney’s aspiration to create tangible pathways for cannabis-nonprofit partnership and Kelly’s desire to develop deeper positive impact from cannabis businesses in historically oppressed communities - their visions intersected to shape what is now a pioneering and values-driven agency, kindColorado. Creating Collaboration The War on Drugs remains and the legal cannabis industry is growing every year. Kelly and Courtney seek to create space for cannabis operators to creatively contribute to solving problems caused by oppressive policy and existing stereotypes. As kindColorado has developed, the tenants of the organization have evolved to actively and humbly champion groundbreaking community-cannabis collaborations that support justice, equity, the oppressed and the underserved.