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Marijuana Policy Project Begins Search For New Leader

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The U.S.’s largest marijuana legalization organization is launching a search process to find its next executive director on Wednesday, Marijuana Moment has exclusively learned.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), which has played a leading role in efforts to reform cannabis policies on the state and federal levels since 1995, was until late last year led by its founder, Rob Kampia.

But Kampia left the organization as greater attention was paid to past allegations of sexual misconduct against him amidst a national focus on workplace sexual harassment and abuse.

Rob Kampia Leaves Marijuana Policy Project

Kampia, for his part, denies that the split had anything to do with his behavior and that he simply wanted to pursue “new business opportunities.”

Now MPP, which has been led on a temporary basis by staffer Matthew Schweich, is looking for Kampia’s permanent replacement.

“Our ideal candidate does not necessarily have a background in marijuana. We are looking for political professionals with experience changing laws, such as a successful campaign manager with a winning track record or a former member of Congress or their staff,” Jeffrey Zucker, chair of MPP’s Board Search Committee, told Marijuana Moment. “But we do want someone with a strong personal commitment to marijuana policy reform, justice and personal liberty.”

The group said in a draft press release that the search will take about three months and will involve targeted outreach to “prominent figures in the fields of politics, social justice and business to ensure the most diverse and inclusive candidate pool possible.”

MPP is especially looking for candidates with political management, fundraising and advocacy experience.

“We are excited to launch this search,” Zucker said. “As a movement, we are close to ending marijuana prohibition in the United States. MPP will continue to play an important role, and we are seeking candidates with experience, expertise and passion for the issue.”

Schweich, the current executive director, will continue leading MPP until a successor is in place and will then focus his attention on the ballot initiative efforts the organization is leading this year, a return to his former role at the organization of leading state campaigns.

“It’s been a privilege to lead this exceptional staff,” he said in the release. “After November, I plan to pursue other opportunities in politics. But first, I want to assist the new executive director during their transition and then help finish what we started in Utah and Michigan. I think both of those ballot initiative campaigns are very important for our movement.”

Meanwhile, Kampia has started a new outfit, the Marijuana Leadership Campaign, which is focused on several of the same state and federal priorities MPP has been working on, leading to some concern that the two groups will compete for resources or duplicate efforts. Kampia has already hired at least one former MPP staffer to join him at the new organization.

See the job posting for the MPP executive director position below:

Job Posting: Executive Director

Lead the marijuana legalization movement.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the largest organization in the U.S. that’s focused solely on ending marijuana prohibition. The organization is hiring a new Executive Director for the first time since its founding in 1995. MPP works to create a nation where marijuana is legally regulated similarly to alcohol, marijuana education is honest and realistic, and treatment for problem marijuana users is non-coercive and geared toward reducing harm. Marijuana reform is one of the country’s most popular and bipartisan issues, with public support more than doubling over the last 20 years.

MPP has played a leading role in more than half of the current medical marijuana and adult use legalization laws in the country, and the Executive Director should be able to help the organization build on its history of concrete reforms. MPP is lobbying to regulate marijuana like alcohol via several state legislatures: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. In Michigan, MPP’s coalition is working to legalize and regulate marijuana by voter initiative in 2018. Meanwhile, MPP is also working with patient advocates to advance medical marijuana-related bills in several other states, including Kentucky and South Carolina, while supporting a medical marijuana ballot initiative in Utah. In Congress, MPP has already helped secured protection from federal law enforcement for medical marijuana patients and businesses in the 2018 spending bill and is increasingly lobbying for expanded reforms to banking, research, patient access, and criminal justice.

The Executive Director directly supervises the Chief of Staff and department heads, with responsibility for day-to-day decision-making for the organization. The position develops and implements the organization’s political strategy and goals in conjunction with the staff and Board of Directors. Fundraising is a major part of the job. The position is responsible for the financial stability of the organization and requires a substantial amount of time be dedicated to raising millions of dollars for the organization and campaigns.

Specific responsibilities of the position include, but are not limited to:

  • Leading efforts to change laws through political organizing, lobbying, and ballot initiatives.
  • Negotiating with a broad range of stakeholders with interests in policy outcomes.
  • Raising capital from high net worth individuals, companies, and foundations.
  • Creating and executing a fundraising plan with specific outreach goals, timelines, and prospect lists.
  • Managing staff and improving individuals’ effectiveness, productivity, and job satisfaction.
  • Fostering and maintaining a positive work environment for all staff.
  • Communicating with the media to shape public opinion.
  • Leading a diverse movement of passionate individuals and organizations with interests in public health and individual liberty.
  • Ideal candidate will have a track record for fundraising and a demonstrated ability to run a fast-paced, mission-driven organization of 20 or more employees with a primary focus on changing laws.

Additional qualifications:

  • Ten or more years in a professional capacity with increasing levels of responsibility, preferably in politics, public policy, fundraising, or organizational management
  • A track record of executive leadership in growing organizations
  • Excellence in verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills; ability to motivate teams and to participate in and facilitate group meetings
  • Experience in strategic planning and execution; knowledge of contracting, negotiating, and political deal-making
  • Ability to adapt and respond to a rapidly changing environment and to encourage and motivate others to do so
  • Interest in or personal commitment to marijuana policy reform and individual liberty

This position is required to work out of MPP’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, while also requiring frequent travel and hours commensurate with a C-level position. This position reports to the Board of Directors. Compensation will be commensurate with experience.

For confidential consideration, please send a cover letter, resume, and a list of professional references to [email protected]

Learn more about Marijuana Policy Project, our mission, our accomplishments, and our goals at www.mpp.org.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (Organization citations are for identification only and do not constitute an endorsement or partnership.)

Politics

DC Activists Have A New Plan To Get Psychedelics Decriminalization On The Ballot Despite Coronavirus

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Activists in Washington, D.C. are considering a new strategy to get a measure to decriminalize psychedelics on the November ballot, with the coronavirus outbreak having forced them to suspend in-person signature gathering.

While Decriminalize Nature D.C. hoped that officials would pass emergency legislation allowing the digital collection of signatures, they aren’t actively considering that option. And the District Council’s chairman said he would not simply place the initiative on the ballot for voters to decide regardless of the signature count.

That’s left the group in a challenging position. But they’re not out of ideas yet.

Now the campaign is exploring the possibility of conducting “micro-scale petition signature collection” to make the ballot. The plan would involve having petitions mailed to supporters, who would circulate it and collect signatures from “registered DC voters in their immediate vicinity, such as family, roommates, friends and close-by neighbors” and then return the signed petitions to the campaign headquarters.

They’ve launched an online survey to determine the feasibility of the option. It asks prospective volunteers to estimate how many signatures they could theoretically collect under that limited scope and provide their mailing information should the campaign decide to move forward with the plan.

This is one of the last remaining options for the 2020 effort, which is working to make a wide range of psychedelics among the district’s lowest law enforcement priorities.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said during a press conference on Friday that he “would not say that we’re looking for legislative action to put [the initiative] on the ballot” outside of the conventional process.

Board of Elections Chairman Michael Bennett also took a question about the prospect of allow electronic signature collection. He said his panel is not considering the possibility “at this point.”

Watch the comments below, starting around 22:15:

Decriminalize Nature D.C. is one of numerous groups working to change local and state drug policy laws. And it’s not alone in its struggle amid the current pandemic.

A California campaign to legalize psilocybin mushrooms is struggling and asking for electronic signature gathering to qualify for the ballot.

In Oregon, advocates for a measure to decriminalize drug possession and a separate initiative to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes have suspended in-person campaign events amid the pandemic.

Activists in California recently released a video asking California officials to allow digital signatures for a petition to revise the state’s adult-use marijuana program. An effort to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska is facing similar signature gathering challenges. A campaign to legalize cannabis in Missouri is also in jeopardy.

Arizona activists shared some more positive news last week, however, announcing that they have collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the state’s November ballot—though they have not yet been submitted to or verified by the state.

Marijuana Legalization Left Out Of New York Budget, According To Draft Summary Document

Photo elements courtesy of carlosemmaskype and Apollo.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Marijuana Legalization Left Out Of New York Budget, According To Draft Summary Document

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The New York legislature seems poised to eliminate a proposal to legalize marijuana through the budget this year, according to an unverified document outlining the policies included in the spending legislation currently under final negotiations ahead of a vote this week.

The draft budget report, which was shared with Marijuana Moment, includes a line stating that the “Adopted Budget omits the Executive proposal to legalize adult use cannabis.”

It also “eliminates $34.31 million in funding for the Office for Cannabis Management,” a government body that would have been responsible for regulating the marijuana market.

The apparent exclusion of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) legalization proposal, while disappointing to reform advocates, is not entirely surprising in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. While the governor repeatedly stressed that the policy change should be enacted through the budget, he and top lawmakers have tried to temper expectations in recent weeks as legislative priorities have shifted during the pandemic.

But to some, the draft adopted budget report isn’t necessarily a death knell for the reform move, and they hope lawmakers can still accomplish legalization this year through separate legislation.

“We are disappointed adult use is not in the budget since it would have been a huge economic benefit to New York farmers and small businesses,” Allan Gandelman, president of the NY Cannabis Growers & Processors Association, told Marijuana Moment. “We hope to continue working with the governor and the legislature to get this done as soon as possible.”

The legislature must still vote on the final budget, but there’s little time left to hash out a deal on comprehensive reform ahead of a Wednesday deadline. Sen. Liz Krueger (D) filed a revised standalone legalization bill earlier this month, language of which could have theoretically been inserted into the budget, but it’s not clear that option remains on the table.

Marijuana Moment reached out to Senate and Assembly leadership for comment about the draft budget summary, but representatives were not immediately available. The document, which according to its metadata was last modified on Sunday afternoon, contains highlighted sections for issues that are “still open” for negotiation, but that is not the case for the cannabis items.

This is the second year in a row that Cuomo has pitched legalization as part of his spending plan. Last year, months of negotiation between his office and lawmakers failed to produce a passable bill—with disagreements centering on issues such as how tax revenue would be allocated—and so the effort carried over to this year.

The governor seemed confident that 2020 would be the year for legal cannabis in New York, and he included the proposal in his State of the State address in January. As recently as last week, he indicated the effort was still alive, though he also recognized that it may prove too complicated an issue to ultimately deliver through the budget this round.

“We will pass a budget and address the policy items that we laid out and we discussed because it’s not just about passing a budget and the numbers,” he said. “There are many policy initiatives that I laid out back in January, and we’re going to pursue all of them.”

“The only caveat was if you have a really complex issue that normally would require weeks of nuanced, detailed negotiation to do it right, that we won’t do. Because I don’t want to pass any bills that are not really intelligent that I then have to come back and deal with again next year,” he continued. “If it’s a highly complex issue, I get it and then let’s put it off because we don’t want to do something sloppy.”

Another part of the governor’s legalization plan originally involved visiting legal cannabis states to learn from their experiences and take lessons back home. However, Cuomo said that trip was also impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Meanwhile, drug policy reform efforts across the country are struggling amid the pandemic.

Activists in California recently released a video asking California officials to allow digital signatures for a petition to revise the state’s adult-use marijuana program. In Washington, D.C., advocates for a measure to decriminalize psychedelics similarly wrote to the mayor and local lawmakers, imploring them to accept online signatures for their ballot petition.

Another California campaign to legalize psilocybin mushrooms is struggling and asking for electronic signature gathering to qualify for the ballot. An effort to legalize medical cannabis in Nebraska is facing similar signature gathering challenges. A campaign to legalize cannabis in Missouri is also in jeopardy.

In Oregon, advocates for a measure to decriminalize drug possession and a separate initiative to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic purposes have suspended in-person campaign events amid the pandemic.

Arizona activists shared some more positive news last week, however, announcing that they have collected more than enough signatures to qualify for the state’s November ballot—though they have not yet been submitted to or verified by the state.

Senate Housing Bill Would Prevent Evictions For State-Legal Marijuana Extraction

Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Senate Housing Bill Would Prevent Evictions For State-Legal Marijuana Extraction

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A new congressional bill designed to promote affordable housing in the U.S. includes a provision that would prevent landlords from evicting people over manufacturing marijuana extracts if they have a license to do so.

Under the legislation, filed earlier this month by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), there’s a list of “just causes for eviction” such as failure to pay rent or causing significant damage to a property.

The “manufacture of a cannabinoid extract” is another cause for eviction, “unless the tenant holds a license to manufacture the cannabinoid extract under Federal, State, or Tribal law.”

Curiously, however, the bill lacks any additional protections for other state-legal cannabis activities, including simple possession. It’s possible that a drafting error is to blame, but Merkley’s office did not respond to Marijuana Moment’s request for comment.

Just above the manufacturing provision is another that states that “the unlawful manufacture, delivery, or possession of a controlled substance” is ground for eviction, though it contains no caveat exempting state-legal activity as cause for eviction.

Despite the growing number of states moving to allow cannabis for medical or recreational use, it remains “unlawful” under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

While advocates would likely applaud the inclusion of state-legal protection language, it’s also the case that eviction proceedings are handled at the state level, and so some courts would presumably defer to state law when it comes to cannabis-related eviction cases.

Also, when it comes to the manufacturing provision, states generally do not provide licenses that would specifically allow individuals to produce marijuana extracts in their residences, so it’s unclear how impactful that policy would be in practice if enacted into law.

Of course, the cannabis provision is just one notable part of a comprehensive housing bill, which aims to “address the shortcomings of our current housing policies and funding levels by holistically addressing disparities and systematic obstacles and ensuring an equitable outcome for the most vulnerable Americans.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) rolled out a different kind of housing reform bill last year that would protect people with low-level drug convictions from being denied access to or being evicted from public housing.

Letting VA Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana To Veterans Won’t Cost Anything, Congressional Analysts Say

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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