Rob Kampia is no longer executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a position he held for 22 years. On Nov. 21, the organization, which he co-founded in 1995, reassigned him as director of strategic development. Matthew Schweich will serve as interim executive director until a permanent replacement is found.
“I’m looking forward to spending more time on Capitol Hill to help craft and pass the best possible legalization law nationally,” Kampia stated. “I also want to focus on legalizing marijuana in three of the ten most populous states—Texas, New York, and Michigan.”
Kampia will continue to sit on the boards of MPP and the MPP Foundation. “Shortly after Election Day, Rob quickly shifted gears to start the Michigan 2018 legalization campaign,” fellow board member Troy Dayton explained. “With the Michigan signature drive now complete, it’s the right time to shift Rob’s focus to new and bigger projects.”
The shakeup continues a trend among the leadership of drug policy reform organizations. In July, the Drug Policy Alliance announced that Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno would succeed Ethan Nadelmann. In November 2016, Erik Altieri took the helm of NORML from Allen St. Pierre.
“Drug policy reform has grown up a lot in the last 20 years,” MPP communications manager Morgan Fox tells Freedom Leaf. “A lot of the leaders that have been so instrumental to the movement are getting older and might want to work on other projects. There are plenty of people willing to get involved and take on the mantle in this mission. We’ve got a lot of talent to choose from.”
The timing of the leadership change raised eyebrows in marijuana media circles. Kampia was charged with sexual harassment by MPP employees in January 2010 and suspended for three months while he went to therapy, but then was reinstated. “It’s impossible to ignore the fact that Kampia’s soft departure comes in the midst of America’s public reckoning with sexual harassment,” Leafly pointed out.
As increasing numbers of high-profile men are suffering the consequences of sexual-harassment allegations, past accusations are resurfacing with a renewed significance. There have been recent rumblings about Kampia on Facebook.
“It seems like an attempt to get ahead of the story,” observes Freedom Leaf editor-in-chief Steve Bloom, who led a boycott against MPP in 2011 for hosting parties at the Playboy Mansion. The boycott took place just a year and half after Kampia was suspended. “He should’ve known better. It showed that his attitude towards women hadn’t significantly changed.”
The 2010 allegations of Kampia’s workplace improprieties, as detailed in the Washington City Paper after he was suspended, included him dating a 19-year-old intern, telling a staffer she would be “hotter with a boob job” and constant suggestive talk in the office. The story culminated with he described as “consensual sex” with an employee. MPP department heads lobbied for him to step down at the time. Instead, Kampia agreed to “get therapy for his attitudes toward women,” the Washington Post reported.
Fox says the change “is something that the leadership has been discussing really since the 2016 campaigns,” and denies it had anything to do with the broader conversation of sexual harassment. “To my knowledge, there have been any allegations against since 2010.”
Unlike Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Charlie Rose, who all lost their jobs swiftly after the sexual-harassment allegations emerged, MPP has simply shuffled Kampia over to a new job and kept him on their board of directors. Seven years after many called for his removal from the organization, he’s still there, just in a somewhat reduced capacity.
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