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Legislative Affairs Director


Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working on drug policy issues, located in Old Town Alexandria. We are looking for someone to be at the forefront of one of today’s most visible and dynamic issues:  marijuana laws and marijuana legalization.  You will be one of just a handful of highly visible people driving the discourse on a policy matter of international importance, and will represent an organization with the Kennedy name behind it. Accordingly, not only will you have a chance to shape policy discourse at the national and international levels, you will also have a chance to stand out in a crowded field.  Additionally, the job offers high-quality health and dental insurance.

We were founded in 2013 by, among others, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and senior editor of The Atlantic David Frum to advocate for a science-based approach to marijuana policy.  (You can learn more about us and our mission at http://www.learnaboutsam.org.)

Despite our relative youth, we have an outsized profile in the media and frequently interact with the press and the public at large, and have grown to be one of the go-to voices on the marijuana issue nationally and internationally.  We need someone with a lot of ideas, initiative, and savvy to help cultivate even stronger relationships with the media, put out press releases, manage social media, design new and inventive outreach campaigns, and work very closely with SAM’s management.  Basically, a start-up environment in the non-profit space.  And due to the interest in marijuana policy, there is never a dull moment.

You must be: A multi-tasker, an excellent writer, a self-starter, tireless worker, an excellent spokesperson, and infinitely reliable.

Success in the position also means a genuine interest in the policy issues at stake, and a willingness to become an expert in the area very quickly — you will be collaborating daily with experts in the field, and with legislators in Washington and in state legislatures across the nation.  Make no mistake, the work will challenge you – but for those with the right skills and drive, this is a place where you can make a difference and stand out.

 Responsibilities for the Legislative and Outreach Affairs Director include:

Develop a deep understanding of SAM, its mission, and its work.

  • Be very comfortable discussing this issue with legislative leaders, aides, and other government staff.
  • Help develop SAM’s federal and state educational priorities, and formulate strategies that create opportunities to educate legislators about those priorities.
  • Develop and execute an outreach plan to various other non-governmental organizations in order to form alliances with a diverse set of groups.
  • Monitor, understand, analyze and track federal and state legislation that could impact SAM’s agenda.
  • Prepare briefings, legislative memos, draft bills, testimony, and correspondence relevant to SAM’s mission.
  • Maintain and develop positive relationships with members of federal and state legislatures and their staff, and serve as their point of contact regarding SAM’s educational efforts.
  • Collaborate with SAM staff on public relations issues.
  • Review and keep updated guidelines for SAM staff related to interaction with elected officials.
  • Promote and conduct policy training for community organizations and other interested groups related to SAM initiatives.
  • Follow press relevant to SAM’s mission and highlight important items for its management.
  • Report directly to SAM’s Executive Vice President.
  • Work from SAM’s Old Town Alexandria office.

 Additional Guidelines:

The Legislative Affairs Director must function independently with guidelines that are often only broadly stated and with issues for which precedents may be few or lacking. In other words, you need to be a self-starter, have good judgment, and be independently motivated.  Also, you will need to know how to address and complete sensitive work with the appropriate discretion.

You must also be able to maintain a confidential relationship with SAM leaders and its board and advisors, and provide expert, comprehensive assistance to high-level SAM officials and staff. You may also need to work with or lead other staff in initiatives, and be able to function well within a team either as a leader or a follower.  In addition, you will be expected to develop and maintain expertise in the field of drug policy, remaining knowledgeable about current events.

Personal Contacts:

Within SAM, contacts are with staff at all levels. Other contacts are with federal and state legislators and their staff. Business and private sector, media, academic, and general public contacts may also be appropriate.  You will need good powers of persuasion, awareness, and tact, including appreciation of the various responsibilities facing your interlocutors.

Physical Demands:

The work is sedentary. The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by the person working in this position to successfully perform the essential functions of this job.  While performing the duties of this job, you will be regularly required to sit, use your hands, and talk or hear. You will also be occasionally required to stand, walk, and reach with your hands and arms. You must also occasionally lift and/or move up to 51 pounds.

Work frequently is performed under pressure. No special physical effort or skill is required. You may be required to work under stressful conditions or long hours to complete sensitive and urgent assignments. Typically, you will be able to sit comfortably to do the work. However, there may be some walking, standing, bending, carrying of light items such as papers and books.


Pre-tax/withholding salary of $55,000 to $75,000 annually, depending on qualifications, for a full-time employee.  Employee health and dental insurance plans are offered.

How to apply:

To apply, please send a resume and a brief (1-2) page cover letter, describing your interest in the job and how you think your background will benefit the organization in this position, to jobs@learnaboutsam.org.



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