Marijuana Legalization with Dr. Mitch Rosenthal and Steve Hawkins



Marijuana is already fully legal in 15 states, plus Washington DC. Federal legislation to legalize marijuana is also gaining momentum. 

What are the implications for public health and the criminal justice system? Let’s dig deep with renowned drug addiction expert and founder of Phoenix House, Dr. Mitch Rosenthal, Steve Hawkins, Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project and Richard Wolffe as moderator.

Thursday, April 1, 5:00pm-6:00pm ET



Mitchell S. “Mitch” Rosenthal, M.D. is president of the Rosenthal Center for Addiction Studies a nonprofit institution designed to meet the informational needs of healthcare professionals, policy makers, and members of the public confronting issues of drug use and addiction.

A pioneer in the treatment of substance abuse, Dr. Rosenthal was founder of Phoenix House, the nation’s leading private, non-profit provider of substance abuse services. He began work in the field in 1965 as a psychiatrist at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, California (1965-1967), where he established the first service-sponsored therapeutic community, successfully treating both alcoholics and drug addicts.  

As a leading advocate for the treatment community, Dr. Rosenthal chaired the New York State Advisory Council on Substance Abuse from 1985 to 1997. He has been a White House advisor on drug abuse and a special consultant to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. A graduate of Lafayette College, Dr. Rosenthal earned his medical degree at the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center. He served his residencies – in adult, child, and community psychiatry at Kings County Psychiatric Hospital, and the Staten Island Mental Health Society. He is a lecturer in psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and was awarded an honorary degree (Doctor of Humane Letters) by SUNY Downstate Medical Center in 2002.


Steve Hawkins has been at the forefront of the movement to advance criminal justice reform, working to advance civil and human rights as an advocate, policy strategist, nonprofit leader, and foundation executive.

Steve began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system, particularly where the prosecution sought to impose the death penalty on indigent African Americans. He then served as executive director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, where he led a bipartisan campaign to end capital punishment for juveniles, leading to repeal in several conservative states and ultimately a historic victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 2008, Steve was named executive vice president of the NAACP, where he spearheaded efforts to end the New York City police practice of “stop and frisk,” worked with leading corporations to remove obstacles to employment for formerly incarcerated persons, and engaged elected officials to restore voting rights to former felons. He also successfully encouraged the NAACP board of directors to adopt its policy in support of marijuana decriminalization. Steve continued working to address civil and human rights abuses in the United States as executive director of the American section of Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization. Under his leadership, the organization confronted police abuse in Ferguson, Baltimore, and other cities, and it spotlighted prolonged solitary confinement and other human rights violations occurring in U.S. prisons and jails.

Most recently, Steve was the president of the Coalition for Public Safety, the largest national bipartisan effort to reform the justice system at the state and federal levels. In this role, he oversaw campaigns to advance policy change through public education, engagement with government officials, and mobilizing stakeholders. He also fostered development of strategic alliances involving business leaders, law enforcement officials, scholars, faith leaders, victims’ advocates and other key voices.


Moderated by: Richard Wolffe is a best-selling author, journalist and digital media executive, with extensive experience covering politics and foreign policy across multiple platforms.

He currently writes a twice-weekly column for The Guardian, focusing on U.S. politics.

Wolffe is also Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Digital Officer at Global Citizen, a non-profit social action platform to solve the world’s biggest challenges, and to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. In his first year at Global Citizen, Wolffe more than doubled its web traffic and grew its video views by more than 1000 per cent. He also led the organization’s international launch into India and its expansion in Canada.

An MSNBC political analyst for a decade, Wolffe was previously Vice-President and Executive Editor of, launching the channel’s website and app in 2013 and its digital video channel in 2014. He grew MSNBC’s digital audience and revenues more than ten-fold in less than two years, winning a series of editorial, design and social impact awards.

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