The Change Makers Award recognizes policymakers on the state or federal level who have advocated for ending cannabis prohibition in the interest of fiscal policy, personal liberty, medical alternatives and/or equal justice.
Delaware Delegate Helene Keeley chosen as 2018 change makers award winner
Helene M. Keeley is the longest serving member of the Delaware House of Representatives, representing the 3rd District since 1996. Public service is her passion and Rep. Keeley is a fierce advocate for women’s rights and criminal justice reform.
Rep. Keeley has taken an active role in championing important cannabis reform legislation including the Delaware Medical Marijuana Act and an amendment to decriminalize certain marijuana possession offenses.
In 2017, Representative Helene M. Keeley sponsored HB 110 - which creates the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. When HB 110 was met with resistance from government and corporate influences, she introduced HCR 52 thereby creating the Adult Use Cannabis Task Force.
Meet our 2018 Nominees
Senator Cory Booker (D) - New Jersey
Cory Booker is the first term Junior Senator from New Jersey. In his short time in the Senate he has been a champion for criminal justice reform and progressive cannabis policy. In 2016 Booker co-sponsored the CARERS Act, a bill introduced to end federal cannabis prohibition. In 2017 Senator Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, including provisions for community reinvestment, including job training and re-entry services.
Delegate Cheryl Glenn (D) - Maryland
Ms. Cheryl Glenn is a State Delegate for Maryland’s 45th District. She was a strong supporter of medical marijuana and sponsored Maryland’s medical marijuana bill, which now allows specially licensed physicians in Maryland to recommend medical marijuana to patients with debilitating medical conditions. She has also been a leader in ensuring race equity in medical cannabis business licensing in Maryland.
At-Large Councilmember David Grosso (I) - D.C.
Mr. Grosso is an At-Large Councilmember on the D.C. Council. He has been a avid supporter of the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana in the District. He introduced the Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act which was blocked by Congress. Grosso also introduced the Record Sealing for Non-Violent Marijuana Possession Act of 2013 to seal the records of all persons for who non-violent marijuana related arrests or charges is their only criminal history, which passes in October 2014.
Representative Helene Keeley (D) - Delaware
Rep. Keeley arrived in the Delaware House of Representatives two decades ago, and is now the longest serving member of that body. In recent years she has been Delaware’s catalyst for change on cannabis policy reform. She was instrumental in working to decriminalize cannabis in the state, as well as legislating the establishment of a medical cannabis program for Delaware.
Representative Barbara Lee (D) California
In 1998, Congresswoman Barbara Lee was elected to serve California’s 9th congressional district (now the 13th) in a special election. In her time in office Representative Lee has been a champion for the poor while working on the powerful Appropriations Committee. In 2018 she introduced the REFER Act and the Marijuana Justice Act to prohibit federal intrusion into state cannabis laws and begin to repair damage to communities of color for the failed War on Drugs, respectively. The bill is an attempt to keep the current administration from interfering in California’s new legalized landscape.
Delegate David Moon (D) - Maryland
David Moon is a State Delegate for Maryland’s 20th District, encompassing Silver Spring and other D.C. suburbs. Since joining the General Assembly Moon has been a leading Progressive in the fight for evolving cannabis policy. He has spearheaded laws in the past that decriminalized the substance in the state, and another that expunged the records of those convicted with possession. In 2018, Moon introduced legislation that would add an amendment to the state’s constitution to end cannabis prohibition in Maryland, by putting the issue to a vote in the November election.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) - Alaska
Senator Murkowski joined the Senate in 2002 by appointment from the Governor of Alaska. After winning her first re-election campaign in 2004 she has served 3 terms as the now senior Senator for the state. Mrs. Murkowski’s cannabis advocacy comes from a state’s rights angle. Her state is one of the 8 that has legalized cannabis for both adult and medical use. She has been one of the rare Republicans to stand up to the Trump administration's DOJ threats to the cannabis industry.
Senator Rand Paul (R) - Kentucky
Sen. Rand Paul is a Junior Senator from Kentucky. In his two terms, Senator Paul has been a strong proponent for criminal justice reform and federal cannabis legalization. In 2017, Senator Paul pushed two cannabis amendments to protect legal state cannabis laws and teamed up with Senator Kamala Harris to enact bail reform.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I) - Vermont
Mr. Bernie Sanders is a U.S. Senator for the state of Vermont. Since his election to Congress in 1991, he has been a leading voice in cannabis policy reform. Senator Sanders co-sponsored the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act and the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act. During 2016’s congressional session, Senator Sanders introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which is the most comprehensive marijuana legalization bill to be introduced in the US Senate.
Learn about our past winners:
Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA) Chosen as Winner of 2017 National Cannabis Festival Change Makers Award
On April 22, 2017, the National Cannabis Festival presented Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA) with the Change Makers Award for his bold leadership introducing the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017”.
“I have long believed justice that isn’t blind, isn’t justice. Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce,” said Congressman Garrett, “Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”
Congressman Garrett’s pragmatic approach to regulating cannabis like tobacco and alcohol, made him the voter favorite in 2017.
Delaware State Senator Margaret Rose Henry (D) Chosen as Winner of 2016 National Cannabis Festival Change Makers Award
On April 23, 2016, the National Cannabis Festival awarded Delaware State Senator Margaret Rose Henry with the Change Makers Award for leading cannabis reform efforts in her state.
Senate Majority Whip Margaret Rose Henry led the fight to legalize medical marijuana in Delaware and expand access to patients who needed it most. She also helped spearhead successful efforts to decriminalize small quantities of the drug in the First State.
“I am honored to be the first recipient of the Change Makers Award. Delaware has come a long way in rethinking the way we look at marijuana, and I thank my colleagues in both the House and Senate for being open-minded about the issue,” Henry said. “We still have more to do – but I am proud to support legislation that improves the overall health, well-being, and future of all Delawareans.”
Senator Henry’s introduction of legislation leading to the establishment of medical cannabis access in Delaware and her efforts to decriminalize cannabis possession to prevent life-altering penalties from being leveled against young people made her the favorite among voters who selected a winner out of 13 state and federal lawmaker nominees.
“Senator Margaret Rose Henry’s pragmatic leadership and thorough understanding of the medical and social impact of cannabis reform sets an example for other state legislators,” said Cynthia Ferguson, representative for Delaware NORML, “to have her receive this award at the inaugural National Cannabis Festival in Washington, D.C., just one mile from the Capitol Building is very symbolic for cannabis policy reform advocates in Delaware and around the nation.”
Click here to download the official press release.