Mayoral Candidate Kelly Brough addresses how to support Denver kids amid marijuana commercialization

May 16th, 2023

Denver Mayoral Candidate Kelly Brough responded to three specific questions One Chance to Grow Up posed about how to support Denver youth amid marijuana commercialization.

Brough’s runoff opponent, Michael Johnston, did not respond to the questionnaire by the deadline so the nonprofit is sharing only the Brough response. One Chance to Grow Up does not endorse or otherwise support specific political candidates. 

“We’re grateful that Kelly took the time to consider and provide detailed responses to our three questions that address the future of our city’s children,” said Alton Dillard, a spokesman for One Chance to Grow Up, a nonpartisan, nonprofit focused exclusively on limiting harm to kids from marijuana commercialization. “We’re sharing this information with voters so they can make a well-informed decision.” 

One Chance to Grow Up is an organization that focuses on protecting kids across the nation from the dangers of today’s marijuana. We don’t take sides on the politics of legalization for adults but instead serve as a reliable resource for parents, media, policymakers, and all those who care about kids., the organization’s website, offers parent resources on issues related to protecting kids from marijuana. 

The three questions posed by One Chance to Grow Up and Brough’s answers follow:

Question 1: 2022 data compiled by Denver shows that marijuana businesses are far more likely to be located in neighborhoods where children face more obstacles to success, as determined by Child Well-Being Index. Young people who live in neighborhoods with more dispensaries use marijuana more frequently than their peers, according to a RAND Corporation study. Considering this overall issue through a social equity lens, what would you do as mayor to limit harm to children from marijuana commercialization?

Brough: I voted NO on Amendment 64 in 2012. Like so many people in Colorado and across the country, my views were shaped by my experience with addiction in my family with another legal substance – alcohol. I have strong concerns about minor access to dangerous substances – legal and illegal – and think that local government has an important role to play in ensuring enforcement of our laws and regulations that are designed to protect children from accessing dangerous substances. Additionally, we must be proactive about funding education and prevention efforts, so children understand the risks of underage use and can make positive choices. As mayor, I would seek to learn more about how / where minors are getting this product and work in partnership with neighborhoods, the industry, licensing and permitting and law enforcement to stop it. Regarding disparities in marijuana use among communities, I would seek to invest more funding and support for positive youth engagement in those neighborhoods through our libraries, recreation centers and funding to out-of-school time program providers. We must give our kids furthest from opportunity to most support to access safe, nurturing, and engaging places to be with positive adult role models.

Question 2: Like flavored tobacco products, marijuana products with sweet or fruity flavors are appealing to kids. This includes high-THC concentrates that come in the form of candies, drinks, and THC vape juices. The risks include both accidental ingestion (kids who consume edibles without knowing they are drugs) and the risk of encouraging use by adolescents. What would you do as mayor to limit the harm to children from these flavored products?

Brough: Beyond that, I believe standardizing terminology and establishing clear guidelines for packaging, labeling, and marketing of products to protect children from accidental ingestion is critically important for all legal substances that pose a risk to children – nicotine, alcohol, and marijuana and even household products like detergent pods. Because marijuana is not legal at a federal level, it is up to states that have legalized it to develop standards and requirements. I would direct my administration to partner with state officials in the Marijuana Enforcement Division at the Colorado Department of Revenue and the Prevention and Wellness Division at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to establish standards and share those standards with other states. The more uniformity we can achieve here the better.

Question 3: How would you use Denver’s influence and resources, and how would you collaborate with Denver Public Schools and/or other youth-serving organizations, to limit the harm to children from marijuana? Would your administration use marijuana tax revenue for this purpose?

Brough: Yes, I’d use marijuana tax revenue to invest in the safety and well-being of our children. It’s a tough time to be growing up. Children’s Hospital Colorado has declared a youth mental health crisis. The city must play an active role in a community-wide response to support our kids. Practically, I will appoint an effective leader for the Office of Children’s Affairs, which has trusted relationships with DPS and youth-serving partners. I will empower that person to align resources from across the city for maximum impact. Philosophically, it is key that we embrace an evidence-based positive youth development approach focused on healthy living, trusted relationships, and long-term success. Finally, we must focus on early identification and intervention of mental health issues, so our youth don’t self-medicate with substances.


Contact: Alton Dillard, or 303-929-7299