Andrew Freedman Colorado’s First Director of Marijuana
Date: September 6th 1:30 pm Studio 413
Over the past decades, North America has been torn apart by diametrically opposed and deeply held beliefs about cannabis. To some it inspires love, medicates the sick, and promotes wellbeing. To others it is a limitless font of crime, addiction, and social unrest. Through the last half of the 20th century we witnessed two Beatles’ arrests for possession of hashish, an Olympian stripped of his Gold medal, and a grisly Mexican drug war. Voters became tired of the War on Drugs, and the new millennium brought a wave of populist-led legalization efforts.
Evaluating the success of these legalization efforts has been almost as divisive as legalization itself, with some claiming that the sky has fallen and others claiming only upside. Freedman understands something that few else can. The cannabis legalization experiment cannot be easily shoehorned into a simple narrative. He knows that its short-term successes and shortcomings do not definitively answer the “Should we legalize?” question. He knows that we can’t yet conclude whether legalization will be good or bad for society. Informed by his unique experience, Freedman’s conclusions are much richer than the doom-and-gloom pronouncements of prohibitionists or the panaceas presented by proponents. How you legalize matters. Getting legalization right matters. Alone among policy experts, Freedman is able to offer a nuanced evaluation of the history-making experiment – and how it will profoundly impact the world for generations to come.
Join Freedman as he provides a tempered view of what we currently know about the effects of legalization. Freedman will then lead a dialog about how best to engage your community on this divisive topic going forward.
1. Lessons and approaches to engaging the community.
2. An agenda-free look at current data and how best to collect data going forward.
3. Preparing the public health community to engage in the future policies of legalization.
Andrew Freedman is co-founder and Senior Director of Freedman & Koski, Inc. Andrew’s first-in-the-nation consulting firm works with government, research institutions, communities and private businesses to get cannabis legalization right. Andrew brings vast experience from his three years as the State of Colorado’s first Director of Marijuana Coordination. During this time, he developed distinctive experience effectively implementing voter-mandated legalized recreational and medical marijuana while protecting public health, maintaining public safety, and keeping marijuana out of the hands of children.
Andrew’s role in developing a successful operating model for cannabis regulation and stakeholder collaboration was identified as one of the reasons for the State of Colorado’s success in implementing recreational marijuana legalizations by the Brookings Institution. Governor Hickenlooper has gone so far as to praise Andrew’s work while on national television, stating, “Andrew Freedman, who came in and helped us once it was passed . . . [has] done a remarkable job of creating a regulatory framework.”
Andrew joined Hickenlooper’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010 and was tapped to be Chief of Staff for Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia. In 2013, Andrew became the director of Colorado Commits to Kids, the largest effort to-date to overhaul Colorado’s education funding system, before being appointed as Colorado’s Director of Marijuana Coordination.
Andrew has received national recognition for his leadership. He was recognized as one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” in 2016 and featured on 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, The Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine, and dozens of local stories throughout the nation and internationally.
Andrew holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in philosophy and political science from Tufts University.