Press Release

Marijuana Policy Project Announces New President and CEO

Dec 15, 2021


Toi Hutchinson, Former Illinois Senior Advisor for Cannabis and Former Illinois State Senator, Will Take the Helm in January

Washington, D.C.  Today, the Marijuana Policy Project announced that Toi Hutchinson will join the organization as its new president and CEO. Hutchinson, a former Illinois state senator, most recently served as senior advisor to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on cannabis legalization implementation. 

For the past year, MPP Executive Director Steven Hawkins has led both MPP and the United States Cannabis Council (USCC). Hawkins will now exclusively focus his efforts on federal cannabis reform at USCC. MPP will remain a member of USCC and continue to share staff, board members, and resources. 

“Toi’s unique resume is perfectly suited to lead MPP as we finish our reform work state-by-state across the country,” said MPP Board Chairman Sal Pace. “Toi worked alongside MPP as one of the initial authors of the Illinois adult-use cannabis legislation to ensure that the law contained a strong social justice framework that included decriminalization in addition to legalization. MPP has always been focused not only on legalization but also on doing it right and ending the war on drugs.”

“I am proud of what we have accomplished at MPP and look forward to working alongside Toi in the fight to end cannabis prohibition,” said Steven Hawkins, president and CEO of USCC. “MPP played a pivotal role in incubating USCC, and we are now taking that work to the next level. Toi is an incredible leader, and I know that our organizations will work tirelessly to advance our shared goals.”

“The MPP Board is thrilled with the work Steve accomplished during his four-year tenure. These past four years have been the most productive years yet for marijuana reform. MPP will continue to work with Steve as a member organization of USCC, including continuing to share some staff between the two organizations,” said Sal Pace, MPP Board Chair.

“I’m pleased to be joining the team at MPP, where I will continue my years-long effort to develop and support cannabis legalization legislation that centers on equity and repairing the harms of the past,” said Toi Hutchinson. “We are incredibly proud of the hard work and lessons learned in Illinois, standing up programs to invest in equity entrepreneurs, reinvesting in communities, and clearing hundreds of thousands of arrests and criminal records. 

“Steve Hawkins’ work at MPP was stellar, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity along with legislators and partners across the country to advance the goals and mission of MPP by harnessing our collective power to advocate for changes to federal cannabis policies.”

In addition to her position as senior advisor for cannabis to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Toi also served as an Illinois state senator. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences (English) from the University of Illinois and a Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University College of Law. 

Toi is a member of the Chicago Federation of Women, the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, Links, International, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.     

Since MPP was founded in 1995, it has spearheaded most of the major state-level reforms that have occurred over the past two decades. 

MPP played a leading role in 10 of the 18 adult-use legalization laws, starting with the historic 2012 Amendment 64 initiative in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize cannabis for adults. MPP also led the coalitions that passed initiatives to legalize and regulate cannabis in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Michigan, and Montana between 2014 and 2021. 

In addition to managing ballot initiative campaigns, MPP has also enacted numerous policies by passing laws through state legislatures. MPP spearheaded the advocacy campaigns that made Vermont and Illinois the first two states to legalize cannabis for adults through the legislative process and played a critical role in enacting the most recent legalization law to pass via state legislature—in Connecticut earlier this year.

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