Kevin Caldwell Joins MPP as Efforts to End Cannabis Prohibition in the Deep South Ramp Up
Baton Rouge, LA — The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the nation’s leading cannabis policy reform organization, announced Monday that it has hired Kevin Caldwell to serve as the organization’s Southeast Legislative Manager.
As founder of the cannabis reform organization CommonSenseNOLA, Caldwell spent nearly the last decade advocating for both municipal and state-level cannabis reforms. He played a leading role in local decriminalization measures in New Orleans, and East Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he helped set the stage for statewide decriminalization, which passed earlier this year.
"It is an honor to join the team at the Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that has provided so much support to reform efforts in Louisiana over the past 10 years that I have been involved in advocacy,” said Kevin Caldwell, Southeast legislative manager at the Marijuana Policy Project. “I look forward to working with allies across the South to move reform efforts forward. The South will be the next region of the country where we will see a monumental shift in the way states deal with archaic cannabis laws. I am excited to join a team that will be at the forefront of those changes."
Caldwell joins MPP at a pivotal moment, with Southern states being ripe for reform. His extensive background in lobbying, grassroots organizing, and previous cannabis advocacy will help bolster MPP’s ongoing efforts as we increase our involvement in the South. He is prepared to work closely with state legislators and allies to pass decriminalization and medical cannabis laws in states that don’t yet have them and to pass adult-use legalization in Louisiana.
"Not long ago, cannabis possession sentences in Louisiana routinely shocked the conscience. Kevin played a leading role in local decriminalization efforts in Louisiana, paving the way for statewide reform," said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “We are delighted to have him join the team at MPP to continue the progress in Louisiana and to work alongside allies to craft humane, sensible cannabis policies throughout the South."
Cannabis policy reform in the South has seen unprecedented progress in recent years. Earlier this year, Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize cannabis for adults. Meanwhile, a legalization bill in Louisiana was voted out of committee, the legislature enacted a decriminalization law, and an interim group was established to consider the impact of legalizing the possession and use of cannabis. Since 2015, medical cannabis laws have passed in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia. Additionally, voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly approved a medical cannabis measure in 2020, which the legislature is expected to replace due to a Supreme Court decision overturning it.