Kellie Butterfield Dodds – President of the Cannabis Film Festival
Kellie Butterfield Dodds is an Emerald Triangle-based Cannabusiness Consultant (KBD Consulting), Cannabis Speaker/Activist, Humboldt Ambassador and the founder/owner of the Cannabis Film Festival. In 2010, Dodds co-founded the 707 Cannabis College in Garberville, California. The college provided a forum where cannabis professionals and everyday people can learn from industry experts about the proper and appropriate medicinal uses of cannabis, sustainable gardening practices and the historical, current and potential future legal issues surrounding cannabis. Dodds currently serves as Community Leader of the Emerald Triangle Norcal Chapter of the NORML Women’s Alliance, a group of modern mainstream women who advocate for marijuana legalization through grassroots, community-oriented educational campaigns. We recently caught up with Kellie so she could share her amazing journey. Enjoy.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
I’ve been a fan of the cannabis industry since I was a teenager. My partner and I left corporate America in 2006 in search of a simpler life, so we went to Humboldt to a buy restaurant. When that didn’t work out the way we had planned, we started looking around for other ideas we could pursue while in Humboldt. Since I wanted to immerse myself in my new community, I started a handy-women business so I could use my years of carpentry experience from before I relocated out to Humboldt. I met some wonderful people along the way who directly lead to the starting of 707 Cannabis College, with Pearl Moon, which ultimately opened other doors and opportunities.
What were you doing before?
I was working in the family business as the operations manager. They have owned a tree injection company in Los Angeles for the past 40+ years. Like many people in the cannabis industry, I come from a pretty diverse professional background. I was a carpenter in my twenties. Then I worked in corporate retail as a manager at Borders Books and Starbucks in my thirties. I’m sure there were a few other things here and there that also pushed me along professionally.
We need to be proactive and contribute to the decisions that will affect us as we move forward.
Tell me about the point in the time you realized the coming of the ‘green rush’?
In retrospect, I would have to say 2010. That’s when we started 707 Cannabis College. We realized that the cannabis industry was becoming more mainstream and people would be in need of a valid source of education. Many of the education options I came across were focused on how to start a dispensary, but I felt there needed to be education above and beyond that.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
I have a wide variety of interests right now and I’m working on building a business model that will allow me to explore and develop as many of them as possible. However, my primary focus at the moment is the Cannabis Film Festival, KBD Consulting and the Homestead farm.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Who is a person that you consider as a role model? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I’ve had a few different influences over the years, primarily women, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be Dr. Roberta (Robin) Spitko. She may be the smartest person I know. She started her own business (New England Fruit Consultants) right after college and has taken on challenge after challenge head-on in a male dominated business, all the while gaining the respect of her peers over the last 3 decades. I have known Robin almost 20 years now and my life has been enhanced on many levels (personally and professionally) because of our relationship.
What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?
I would recommend:
‘The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching‘ – by Thich Nhat Hanh
‘What Makes You Not a Buddhist‘ – by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse – for anyone that thinks they might be interested in Buddhism. It’s an easy read and a good start.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
The creation of 707 Cannabis College has afforded me the chance to work with the state of California’s apprenticeship program for the cannabis industry. It has been a long term project that is finally coming to fruition. I am very proud of my contribution and am looking forward to seeing how this will help create new jobs and proper training within the industry.
Prohibition is coming to an end. Now we need to focus on how we are going to deal with the legal aspects involved; regulation, sustainability, licensing, etc.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I think there are two answers to this question. First, “Treat people like you want to be treated”. Second, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”. Both of these things are a big factor in my day to day business and life decisions.
What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?
Prohibition is coming to an end. Now we need to focus on how we are going to deal with the legal aspects involved; regulation, sustainability, licensing, etc. This is an exciting time for the development of a whole new industry. There will be countless business opportunities, many of which we have just begun to explore. Entrepreneurs and their support teams will finally have an industry they can use to bring their ideas to life. My goal with KBD Consulting is to make sure those entrepreneurs are set up for success!
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised at all the successes we are watching unfold. And we are just getting started…
There are so many people using marijuana for legitimate, documented health issues and experiencing a real benefit.
What scares you most about this industry?
Complacency. We need to be proactive and contribute to the decisions that will affect us as we move forward.
If you could tell a skeptic one thing about this industry to make them change their mind, what would it be?
There really is no simple answer to this question. So many arguments are made every day, by now something should be getting thru to those skeptics. They need to let go of the stereotypical pot smoker stoner image they tend to have. There are so many people using marijuana for legitimate, documented health issues and experiencing a real benefit. It is not the gateway drug we were told it was in the 70s and 80s. Science and statistics have proven that. Even people using it recreationally are not the ‘dregs of society’ skeptics want to believe they are. These people are soccer moms, business owners, independent and productive members of society that choose to use cannabis rather than drink or take prescription drugs. Alcohol and nicotine are legal drugs that kill users and innocent bystanders every day.
Tell us something that you wish you had known before becoming a cannabis entrepreneur.
For me, it’s not about being a cannabis entrepreneur as much as just being an entrepreneur. I love being self-employed. Although there are many responsibilities, the freedom to set my own schedule, explore a wide variety of interests and help people along the way is absolutely amazing. I love it when a project I’m working on creates more jobs with living wages and benefits.
What scares you the most about the cannabis industry? If you were to start a new business in the cannabis space, what’s the most important question on your mind? Join the conversation and comment below!