CNU's Dan Larkin chats with Matthew Schweich, Deputy Director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a nonprofit that advocates for the legalization of cannabis across the United States.
Schweich served as interim Executive Director of MPP from November of 2017, until August of 2018, when Steve Hawkins took over the role.
Discussing MPP’s role in working towards change, Schweich offers a positive outlook for the immediate, and long-term, future of cannabis in the United States, saying he believes "...very soon, this year or next, congress will pass legislation that permanently establishes marijuana as a states' rights issue."
There are currently only four states left in the union, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, that don't allow cannabis to be used in any form. Use is, however, still restricted in many other states as well. Two of those states, Michigan and Utah, have initiatives up for vote this November – campaigns with which MPP has been very active.
As Sweich says, we've reached a "tipping point" in this country, and change is on the horizon. Until then, he'll keep educating the public, pushing for change both at state and national levels, and fighting the good fight. Watch the full interview above, and, as always, share and subscribe if you like what you see.
MPP, which was founded in January 1995, is the largest organization in the U.S. that’s focused solely on ending marijuana prohibition.
MPP’s mission is to change federal law to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference, as well as to regulate marijuana like alcohol in all 50 states, D.C., and the five territories.
MPP has been responsible for changing most major state-level marijuana policy reforms since 2000.
MPP is actually composed of two separate organizations — MPP, founded in 1995, is the main branch that deals with lobbying and ballot initiatives, and MPP Foundation, founded in 1996, is the tax-deductible educational branch. In addition, MPP has state committees in the states where MPP is running ballot initiatives; these state committees are formed and closed every few years.
MPP has approximately 30 employees, two-thirds of whom are based in MPP’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.; this includes a full-time lobbyist on Capitol Hill. In addition, MPP has lobbyists on retainer in a number of states capitals around the country.
Matthew Schweich joined MPP in early 2015 as the director of state campaigns. During the 2016 elections, Matt played a central role in the ballot initiative campaigns that legalized marijuana in Maine and Massachusetts. He also worked on the 2016 Nevada legalization campaign.
In 2017, Matt led MPP’s advocacy and lobbying campaign in Massachusetts that successfully defended the voter-approved legalization law from delays and excessive amendments proposed by the state legislature. He also oversaw legislative efforts in Maine and Rhode Island.
Since early last year, Matt has been working on the medical marijuana ballot initiative in Utah, an issue close to his heart. If approved by voters, the law will establish legal protections and safe access for medical marijuana patients while ending the cruel injustice of treating both patients and caregivers as criminals. Matt is also the campaign director and treasurer of the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the Michigan campaign committee working to pass a ballot initiative to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults. Both of these initiatives will be decided by voters in the November 2018 general election.
If you'd like to continue the conversation on medical cannabis in the United States, read next: One Woman's Fight For Her Son