The 2014 MJINews Power Activists

Progress is not given, it is earned. The 2014 MJINews Power Activists know this all too well. New marijuana capitalists not only need to make note of the activists fighting for drug law reform, but they need to actively support the reform movement because anti-marijuana activists are not backing down. If antiquated state and federal laws do not change, investors will have trouble putting their capital to work in legal marijuana ventures. The success of reform efforts will determine the strength of the legal marijuana industry. This list is alphabetical.


Betty Aldworth - Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Since 2009, Betty has specialized in community outreach, public relations, advocacy and policy reform as a consultant to cannabis-related businesses and nonprofit organizations. Amendment 64, Colorado’s recreational marijuana initiative, would not have passed without her leadership and dedication as Advocacy Director for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. As executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Betty continues her commitment to ending the war on cannabis.

Michael Correia - Director of Government Relations, National Cannabis Industry Association

Legislative risk is the single biggest threat to investment in this industry so Michael’s position of power should not to be underestimated. He is a legislative veteran, having spent several years on Capitol Hill working for Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., who retired in 2010, and the House Committee on Resources, serving three different Chairmen. By focusing on tax and banking regulations and working with media and national organizations, Michael is lobbying to increase the cannabis industry’s profile and supporting NCIA’s efforts to improve the legal and social climate.


Major Neill Franklin - Executive Director, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

In 2010, Major Neill Franklin became executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization of criminal justice professionals who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies. Franklin’s public advocacy, especially as a former law enforcement officer, is vital for successfully voicing an end to the war on cannabis.


Rob Kampia - Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project

Rob Kampia co-founded the Marijuana Policy Project in 1995 and has served as its executive director ever since. The MPP is the largest 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization in the U.S. that is solely dedicated to ending cannabis prohibition. Rob has testified before legislative committees in California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Vermont, Washington state, and the U.S. House of Representatives. Rob’s historical involvement in the legalization of marijuana demonstrates his skills as a public policy veteran.


Ethan Nadelmann - Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance

Through the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan leads the way in promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. The DPA is the leading organization in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on cannabis. With the DPA, Ethan has played a role in major drug policy reform ballot initiative campaigns in the U.S. on issues ranging from medical marijuana and marijuana legalization to prison reform, drug treatment and reform of asset forfeiture laws. Accordingly, Rolling Stone has referred to Ethan as “the point man” for drug policy reform efforts. With a B.A., J.D. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard, Ethan’s intellect paired with his devotion to drug policy reform position him at movement’s vanguard.

Kevin Sabet - Co-founder, Project SAM; Director, Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida

Kevin is one of the most prominent anti-marijuana activists in the country. Rolling Stone named him as one of legalization’s biggest enemies in 2013 and Alternet has referred to him as a “Culture Warrior Propagandist.” While SAM is a slightly mysterious organization, Kevin has formed a fairly high caliber group that has made efforts to defeat legalization at the local level in several states. With Kevin at the helm, SAM has the potential to influence the risk associated with investments in the marijuana industry.


Aaron Smith - Executive Director, National Cannabis Industry Association

Aaron’s ability to build coalitions gives the general public a trusted voice in the legal marijuana industry. As executive director, Aaron spearheads the NCIA, the industry’s first trade organization. The NCIA’s mission is to establish a legitimate industry, and create a social, economic and legal environment in which cannabis-related businesses can thrive.


Allen St. Pierre - Executive Director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Allen joined NORML in 1991 as its communications director and his dedication has allowed him to grow with the organization, ultimately becoming executive director in 2005. Headquartered in Washington D.C., Allen continues to lead NORML in its mission of reforming state and federal marijuana laws. The network of volunteer state and local NORML chapters across the country ensure the organization stays relevant in a time when marijuana is slowly being legalized state by state.


Mason Tvert - Director of Communications, Marijuana Policy Project

With his political involvement beginning in college, Mason parlayed that experience into a career in marijuana policy reform. In 2013, The Denver Post named him the state’s “Top Thinker” in the area of politics and government. Running the communications department for the Marijuana Policy Project out of the organization’s Denver office, Mason oversees the MPP’s media strategy and online outreach to encourage the end of marijuana prohibition.


Taylor West - Deputy Director, National Cannabis Industry Association

By synthesizing her experience in the political, policy, nonprofit, and business arenas, Taylor has positioned herself as a leading advocate for businesses engaged in marijuana commerce. Taylor is a veteran of several high-profile political campaigns and has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, Fox News and CNBC. Through the NCIA, she champions opening access to banking services for marijuana businesses as well as changing the federal tax code. Her work with the NCIA directly affects the economic climate of the industry.