The Marijuana Policy Project — the nation’s largest cannabis policy reform organization — has announced the election of Sal Pace to serve as the new chair of its Board of Directors. Pace replaces Arcview co-founder Troy Dayton, who has served as MPP Board Chair for the last seven years.
“We're very excited to have Sal as our new chair,” said MPP Executive Director Steve Hawkins. “Sal is a recognized leader in the cannabis reform arena having used his platform as an elected official to advance common sense reforms. With tremendous passion and an in-depth knowledge of cannabis policy issues, he is an excellent choice to lead our board.”
Pace, who has been called “one of the state’s most vocal proponents of marijuana legalization,” represented Colorado’s 46th District from 2008 to 2012, during which he served as House Minority Leader. He also served as Pueblo County Commissioner from 2013 to 2018 and was appointed to Gov. Jared Polis’ transition team when he was first elected in 2018. Pace is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most knowledgeable former elected officials on the subject of marijuana policy.
“Sal Pace has brought a pioneering effort both in the Colorado cannabis program and his leadership nationally. I count Sal as a valuable and essential ally in my work for cannabis reform,” said U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), co-chair and founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
During his time in the General Assembly, Pace played a leading role in developing Colorado’s medical marijuana model, earning him recognition as the face of regulation from local news media. He served on several policy and legislative interim committees focused on cannabis, and he founded a national organization of local elected officials, Leaders For Reform, in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ rescission of the Cole memo.
As a county commissioner, Pace led efforts to create the Institute of Cannabis Research at Colorado State University-Pueblo and to establish the first college scholarship program funded by cannabis tax revenue. Prior to running for office, he served as a Congressional and campaign staffer. Pace serves on the boards of the Institute of Cannabis Research, Colorado’s Front Range Rail Commission, and the Colorado Independent Venues Association. He is also an advisory board member for HeadCount's Cannabis Voter Project.
As MPP chair, Pace is ready to hit the ground running at this critical juncture of cannabis policy, criminal justice reform, and racial and social justice our nation currently faces. Said Pace:
Ending marijuana prohibition in the U.S. is the most effective way to address social justice issues. Even with all of MPP’s successes to date changing laws across the country, 600,000 people are still arrested annually, and 40,000 are behind bars because of marijuana charges. As MPP chair, we aren't just focused on legalization, we're also concerned with doing it right, which means equity and diversity in opportunity and correcting the negative impacts from the failed war on drugs.
To learn more about Pace and his plans as MPP Board Chair, check out this Westword interview where he discusses cannabis policy reform efforts in 2021.