Steve Hawkins: “I’m proud to join this incredible team of advocates at such a critical moment in the movement to end marijuana prohibition.”

Steve Hawkins is the Marijuana Policy Project’s new executive director. He replaces acting director Matthew Schweich, who took over for the organization’s co-founder and long time executive director Rob Kampia in December.

Hawkins previously held executive-level positions at the NAACP (executive vice president), Amnesty International USA (executive director) and the Coalition for Public Safety (president).

“The country is moving in the right direction on marijuana policy, but there’s still a lot of work to be done,” states MPP board chair Troy Dayton. “Steve is the perfect choice to oversee that work and lead MPP into the future.”

In a press release, Hawkins elaborated: “Throughout my career, I’ve witness the counterproductive efforts of the war on marijuana and its especially devastating impact on communities of color. I’m proud to join this incredible team of advocates at such a critical moment in the movement to end marijuana prohibition.”

During his time at Amnesty International, Hawklins drew criticism for steering the organization toward domestic issues like the unrest in American cities after police shootings of African Americans. “There are individuals within Amnesty who believe we’re becoming too domestically focused,” he said in 2015 before his departure. “I don’t expect to win anyone over, but as long as I can expand the pie and increase our level of support, I’ll be taking the organization in the right direction, and not just financially.”

At NAACP, Hawkins focused on issues like New York’s stop-and-frisk arrest policy, which targeted minorities (the practice was ruled unconstitutional in 2012). He was responsible for the NAACP board taking a stand in favor of marijuana decriminalization.

Schweich has been reassigned to deputy director.

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