Pro-legalization group Marijuana Policy Project overhauls leadership

The man behind more than half of the successful state-level medical and recreational marijuana legalization efforts is stepping down as leader of the marijuana law reform organization he helped found.

The national advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project announced Tuesday that co-founder and executive director Rob Kampia will transition from executive director to a new role focused on strategic development. He will continue to serve on the nonprofit organization’s board of directors, according to the announcement.

Matt Schweich, MPP’s director of state campaigns since 2015, will serve as interim director while the organization searches for a new executive director over the next six months.

Rob Kampia, co-founder Marijuana Policy Project
Marijuana Policy Project announced Tuesday Rob Kampia is stepping down from his role as the organization’s executive director. (Courtesy Marijuana Policy Project)

“I’m honored to have served as executive director, I’m excited the board chose the person I nominated to serve as interim executive director, and I’m energized to help identify a new executive director to finish the job of ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S.,” Kampia said in a statement released Tuesday.

Kampia said that when he co-founded MPP in 1995, medical marijuana was still illegal in all 50 states. Under his leadership, MPP orchestrated successful campaigns for medical marijuana in more than a dozen states. In 2012, he helped lead MPP’s groundbreaking campaign for Colorado’s marijuana-legalizing Amendment 64 ballot initiative and then scaled the strategy to pass similar ballot measures legalizing adult-use marijuana in Alaska in 2014, and then Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016. The organization’s 2016 push for legalization in Arizona fell short.

His tenure leading MPP was not without controversy. In January 2010, he was forced by the board of directors to take a three-month medical leave of absence in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal that led seven staffers to resign, according to The Washington Post.

“I wasn’t nearly careful enough in considering other people’s feelings with my actions and my language,” he told The Washington Post at the time. “I’ve also learned I’m capable of change because, overnight, we changed the culture of MPP.”

In his statement Tuesday, Kampia said he was looking forward to spending more time on Capitol Hill to lobby and help craft legislation for national marijuana legalization.

“I want to thank the MPP board for dedicating sufficient resources to allow me to focus on strategy and fundraising, while liberating me from managerial duties and other responsibilities,” he said.

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