Managing Director, Legal Affairs
Theshia Naidoo is Managing Director, Department of Legal Affairs, with the Drug Policy Alliance and an expert and strategist in the area of criminal justice reform as it relates to drug policy. ?Naidoo has pushed for the creation and adoption of innovative criminal justice reforms, including playing a pivotal role in the advancement of policies and practices to reduce the role of the criminal legal system and promote a health approach to drug use.
Naidoo crafts criminal justice reform legislation and policies across the country and supports campaigns related to eliminating or reducing criminal penalties for drug offenses, protecting immigrants from deportation based on drug offenses, asset forfeiture reform, and minimizing the collateral consequences of criminal convictions. Naidoo’s work also focuses on ballot initiatives, including serving as one of the chief architects of Oregon’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act of 2020, the first ever drug decriminalization initiative in the United States; playing a key role in the drafting of Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in 2012; and California’s Proposition 47 (the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014), which reduced numerous felony offenses to misdemeanors.
Naidoo presents regularly on drug policy reform issues across the country and internationally, including presenting at an Obama White House convening and at the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. She has testified before state legislatures and other government bodies on criminal justice reform and drug policy and often serves as a guest speaker at law schools, universities and other institutions. Naidoo also serves as a member of the San Francisco Sentencing Commission.
Naidoo received her B.A. in political science from the University of California Berkeley and she received her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law. Prior to joining DPA, she worked at a law firm for four years representing clients in employment law and commercial litigation matters. She left private practice to join the struggle to make drug laws and policies more just, more compassionate, and more effective.