Rob previously co-founded the Marijuana Policy Project in 1995 and served as its executive director for 23 years. After leaving MPP in 2017, he founded the Marijuana Leadership Campaign, based in Austin and Washington, D.C. Rob grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia in Harleysville, Pennsylvania. In 1986, he graduated as valedictorian of his class at Souderton Area High School, and in 1993 he graduated with honors from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Science and a minor in English.
In the middle of his seven-year tenure at Penn State where he had a full scholarship, he served three months in a county prison near State College after being convicted of three felonies associated with growing his own marijuana for recreational use. Two years after being released from prison, he was elected to serve as president of Penn State’s student body from 1992 to 1993. Three days after graduating from Penn State in 1993, he moved to Washington, D.C. for the sole purpose of legalizing marijuana in the United States. And he has spent his entire adult life doing just that, toggling between his so-called “Purple Mansion” in D.C. and his condo in downtown Austin.
Between 2000 and 2016, Rob was the principal architect of the lobbying campaigns and ballot initiatives that legalized medical marijuana in 14 of the 30 states that now have such laws on the books. And between 2012 to 2016, Rob oversaw the campaigns that have regulated marijuana like alcohol in five of the eight states that have done so—most notably in Colorado, which in 2012 became the first U.S. state (and the first jurisdiction in the world) to end marijuana prohibition entirely for adults 21 and older.
In his spare time, Rob practices yoga and meditation, listens to heavy metal, writes humor and blog posts, reads The Washington Post, and exercises — when he’s not running his mouth.
As co-founder and former executive director of MPP, Rob is known for running what is essentially a “permanent campaign operation,” responsible for enacting half of the good state marijuana laws in the U.S.
Rob oversaw the seven-year campaign in Colorado that resulted in that state becoming the first place on the planet to legalize marijuana from seed to sale. This work included drafting the ballot initiative, raising the money to pass it, and managing the staff and campaign overall, leading to the ultimate victory in November 2012.
Rob oversaw the campaign that succeeded at passing a similar ballot initiative in Alaska in November 2014, as well as Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine in November 2016. (Rob also assisted with the passage of the marijuana-legalization initiative in November 2016 in California, sitting on the five-member board of directors that oversaw that campaign.)
Rob was instrumental in legalizing medical marijuana in half of the 29 states that have done so. Specifically, Rob’s team led the successful lobbying and initiative campaigns in 12 states — in Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont — while co-running the successful campaigns in three additional states — Hawaii, Maine, and New York.
As for the third prong of what is now considered the traditional tripartite approach to marijuana-policy advocacy on the state level, Rob’s surgical use of limited resources also succeeded in decriminalizing marijuana possession in Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Rob has appeared on all national TV networks and news channels, in addition to hundreds of local TV stations and almost every newspaper in the United States. Some of his highest-profile public appearances include:
Debating prohibitionist opponents approximately 20 times on live national TV, including then-DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson, then-Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), TV personality Glenn Beck, Drug-Free America Foundation head Calvina Faye, and Smart Alternatives to Marijuana executive Kevin Sabet. In addition to Beck’s show on the Fox News Channel, Kampia has debated or otherwise been interviewed on Geraldo Rivera on CNBC, Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, the PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill, The Daily Show with Wyatt Cenac on Comedy Central, The O’Reilly Factor and other shows on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, CBS Evening News, and even NBC’s Today show with Katie Couric when Rob was just 30 years old.
Testifying a dozen times before committees and task forces in the state legislatures of California, Hawai’i, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Washington state.
Running for Congress in 2000, coming only 3,500 votes short of qualifying the Libertarian Party as a major party in the District of Columbia.
Twice testifying in Congress in 2001 and 2004—both times before the U.S. House of Representatives Government Reform Committee’s drug policy subcommittee—where then-Chairman Mark Souder (R-IN) famously declared in frustration, “Mr. Kampia, you are an articulate advocate for an evil position.”