Betty Aldworth | Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)
Betty is the Director of Communications & Events for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, the leading psychedelic policy and research organization which is making MDMA-assisted therapy legal and innovating toward a post-prohibition future. Betty and her team educate the public through media, conferences and seminars, a book publishing imprint, and The MAPS Bulletin. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy where she led and supported tens of thousands of students and young people united to build a more sensible future through reforming drug policies to be rooted in safety, justice, and education. Beginning in 2014, Betty led the organization through its most substantial growth period and in 2020 left the organization in its most stable and sustainable position in its year history. Since 1999, Betty has specialized in community engagement, public relations, advocacy, and policy reform for nonprofit organizations and, twice, businesses including as spokesperson and advocacy director for the successful 2012 Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the collaborative committee responsible for legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults in Colorado. An activist and advocate since she first demonstrated against colonization and nuclear testing as a child, Betty organized her first action at 13 and today fights to end the drug war to end mass incarceration, reengage citizens in the political process, and build racial and economic justice.
When building the cannabis industry from the ground up, why is gender parity (having at least 50% women) so important?
Aside from the feminist response applicable to any industry: cannabis will soon be consumed more often than women than men if positioned properly as a health and beauty product in addition to a medical and social product. But for decades, cannabis culture has positioned women and bong-holding objects in sexualized poses and clothing (if any at all).
Many women feel alienated from that culture and from cannabis itself, and we can only invite them to consider the healing and social-use benefits of cannabis if they see women with whom they identify as users, producers, leaders, and experts.
What social justice and/or criminal justice reforms do you want the US to make around its drug policy, particularly around cannabis?
Ultimately, we’re fighting to end the drug war globally and regulate all drugs according to their harms and geographic context. Most urgently, ending cannabis prohibition, implementing harm reduction measures such as syringe exchange and drug checking, and ending the criminalization of drug users will rapidly advance human rights in drug policy.
Why are environmentally sustainable business practices essential to the future of the cannabis industry?
Put simply, environmentally sustainable business practices are essential to the future of every industry. The cannabis industry is under tremendous scrutiny and should strive to minimize criticism in order to advance policy; fortunately, as a newly legal industry, there is ample opportunity to create sustainable norms among producers and providers.
How do you incorporate gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability into your work and the growth of your business/organization?
We fiercely protect equal opportunity within our network and elevate women as leaders, center our work around human rights and public health, and frequently provide education around the environmental impacts of drug production — both licit and illicit — and supply control.