Jessica Gelay is the policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance’s New Mexico office where she works on strategic initiatives to expand the medical cannabis program, to legalize cannabis for adult use and to eliminate hepatitis C.
In 2018 Gelay chaired a statewide taskforce called for by the New Mexico legislature to examine issues of affordability of and accessibility to medical cannabis for patients and make recommendations to improve the program. The task force report set the stage for a successful legislative campaign and the passage of Senate Bill 406 in 2019, which includes civil protections, a framework for access to medical cannabis in schools, and reciprocity for patients visiting from other states among other measures.
Gelay’s dedication to public health and social justice organizing is lifelong. She works to end the prohibition of drugs and to stop the criminalization of people who use drugs by engaging with community members and elected officials and lifting up the stories of people negatively affected by current policies to create pressure for change.
Prior to relocating to New Mexico in 2012 Gelay lived in Los Angeles where she worked in the medical cannabis industry and founded a website that allowed medical cannabis patients to be electronically verified by dispensaries and law enforcement.
Gelay was born and raised in California. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Science Policy and Management from U.C. Berkeley, and an M.F.A in Theatrical Design from the University of Southern California.