The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) has appointed Steve Hawkins as its new executive director, according to a statement released by the organization on August 14, 2018.
Hawkins, a veteran criminal justice reform and civil rights advocate, worked for many years as an attorney and organizer at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and as the executive director at Amnesty International.
In the statement, MPP’s chairman of the board, Troy Dayton, said Hawkins was chosen for his “strong track record in the field of criminal justice reform. And he knows how to build a movement toward meaningful social change. We were not only impressed by his expertise and experience, but also his strong convictions regarding the injustice of marijuana prohibition.”
Most recently Hawkins was the executive director of the Coalition for Public Safety, the largest national bipartisan effort to reform the justice system at the state and federal levels. Hawkins said in the news release that much work remains to be done on the legalization of cannabis as it relates to his work on criminal justice reform efforts.
“Throughout my career, I have witnessed the counterproductive effects of the war on marijuana and its especially devastating impact on communities of color,” Hawkins said in the statement. “MPP has been at the vanguard of changing public perceptions and public policies surrounding marijuana, and I am proud to join this incredible team of advocates at such a critical moment in the movement to end marijuana prohibition.”
Hawkins previously served as a program executive for the Atlantic Philanthropies, and as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation, where he directed early investments of substantial resources into advocacy efforts to end mass incarceration, including groups working to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana possession.
Hawkins will replace Matt Schweich, who served as executive director since November 2017. Schweich will take on a role as deputy director, overseeing MPP’s Michigan and Utah campaigns.