Sen. Toi Hutchinson

Former State Sen. Toi Hutchinson has been name president and CEO of a national lobbying group seeking to legalize pot nationwide. Previously representing Kankakee County for a decade, she resigned her elected position in 2019 to take a state job carrying out the state’s new marijuana legalization law. 

Toi Hutchinson, the top marijuana official in Illinois, is leaving her job with the state to work for the national lobbying group that led the push to legalize cannabis in the state.

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Wednesday that Hutchinson will serve as its new president and CEO. To fill the role, she’s stepping down as the state’s senior adviser for cannabis control. Unofficially dubbing the newly created position as “pot czar,” Gov. JB Pritzker appointed Hutchinson to the role in September 2019.

At that time, Hutchinson was serving as a Democratic state senator representing the 40th Senate District, which contains portions of the southland as well as a majority of Kankakee County, an eastern portion of Will County and southeastern Grundy County.

While in the Senate, she was one of the chief sponsors of Illinois’ marijuana legalization law. Illinois legalized the sale and possession of recreational cannabis for adults in 2020.

Now, she will lead the organization that aims to see the legalization of marijuana nationwide by approaching reform in a state-by-state manner. The organization played a role in the passage of Illinois’ pot law.

“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 Board Chairman Sal Pace said in a news release.

Since MPP’s beginnings in 1995, according to the company, it has spearheaded most of the major state-level reforms that have occurred during the past two decades.

MPP played a leading role in 10 of the 18 adult-use legalization laws, including the first in Colorado. The company touts on its website that it also led the coalitions that passed initiatives to legalize and regulate cannabis in Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Michigan and Montana between 2014 and 2021.

“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,” Hutchinson said in a news release.

“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.”