Published On August 14, 2017

On Jan. 27, Ethan Nadelmann announced that he was stepping down as executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. The founder of one of the most influential drug policy advocacy groups in the nation, Nadelmann said he’d been thinking about “making this transition for almost two years.” He left the DPA on May 1.

The DPA announced July 18 that Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, who previously worked at Human Rights Watch for 13 years, would succeed him. Sánchez-Moreno, who grew up in Peru, is the first Latina to head a major drug-law-reform group.

“You see so many vast problems in this country that are strongly linked to the War on Drugs,” she told Alternet about her work at HRW. “From mass incarceration to large-scale deportations, a lot of it is people getting convicted of low-level drug offenses.”

At Human Rights Watch, where she worked on issues like criminal-justice reform, immigration, and the situation in Colombia, Sánchez-Moreno implored the organization to view punitive drug policies as an international human-rights issue, prompting it to call for global decriminalization. At the DPA, however, Sánchez-Moreno plans to concentrate more on domestic issues and policies.

“We’re excited to have found someone with such passion to reverse and remedy the destructive effects of the drug war, and with the knowledge, experience and persistence to do it,” DPA’s board president Ira Glasser stated about their newest leader.

Also in July, Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, announced he was leaving the organization to work as vice president of public relations and communications at VS Strategies, a Denver public-relations firm promoting marijuana legalization and the cannabis industry. Tvert, founder of SAFER, helped get Amendment 64 passed in Colorado in 2012, legalizing cultivation and sales of recreational marijuana. VS Strategies, helmed by Steve Fox, Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg, also played a key role.

“I am thrilled to be formally reuniting with Mason to continue our work to reshape the image of cannabis and advance marijuana policy reform,” Fox told Colorado Politics. “To say that he’s a cannabis communications expert is frankly understating his value.”

This post was originally published at freedomleaf.com. Check out Freedom Leaf magazine for this editor’s Word on the Tree column.