Heather Trela

Director of Operations, Fellow

Heather Trela oversees the day-to-day operations of the Rockefeller Institute and serves as the president’s primary liaison with management, staff, and other stakeholders. Her research focuses on federalism issues with an emphasis on marijuana policy. She was a doctoral candidate at, and holds a master’s degree in political science from, the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy as well as a bachelor’s in economics and political science from Hartwick College.

Read More

Latest

What We’re Watching in New York State’s FY25 Budget

March 28, 2024

Rockefeller Institute researchers highlight some key issues in different areas of the NYS FY 2025 budget that intersect with their research in healthcare, education, fiscal analysis, cannabis policy, and environmental issues. Continue Reading...


Ep. 78. Rescheduling Marijuana

September 20, 2023

Rockefeller Institute of Government's Director of Operations and Fellow Heather Trela discusses the Biden administration's initiative to reschedule marijuana and the impacts rescheduling could have on the marijuana industry and enforcement practices. Continue Reading...


The High Courts II

September 7, 2023

The judiciary continues to shape marijuana markets in states across the US, with implications that sometimes extend beyond cannabis. Continue Reading...


The High Court: How the Judiciary is Influencing Marijuana Policy

April 20, 2023

This analysis looks at three areas of recent jurisprudence that are shaping the marijuana industry. Continue Reading...


What to Watch in New York’s Adult-Use Cannabis Retail Market

February 22, 2023

Five trends to keep an eye on as New York State's adult-use cannabis retail market develops in 2023. Continue Reading...


Drugs, Guns, and Democracy: An Overview of Ballot Measures in this Year’s Elections

November 1, 2022

As Election Day 2022 approaches, this analysis looks at what ballot measures voters will decide on from marijuana to reproductive health to guns, and more. Continue Reading...


Ep. 57. A Renewed Push for Marriage Equality—Part One

October 14, 2022

In part one of this series on marriage equality, Rockefeller Institute Fellow Heather Trela, Senior Policy Analyst Leigh Wedenoja, and Pride Center of the Capital Region Executive Director Nate Gray provide an overview of the judicial and legislative history of marriage equality, the Respect for Marriage Act making its way through Congress, and how the recent uncertainty surrounding marriage equality affecting members of the LGBTQ+ community. Continue Reading...


Ep. 48. New York State Budget Roundup

April 13, 2022

The Rockefeller Institute highlights what you need to know about New York State's $220 billion budget for the 2023 fiscal year. Continue Reading...


To Opt In or Opt Out—That is the Question for NYS Municipalities

October 29, 2021

As the December 31st deadline looms, Director of Operations and Fellow Heather Trela shares early takeaways from her efforts to track the opt-in/opt-out decision-making by localities. Continue Reading...


As Marijuana Grows More Mainstream, Mechanics of Legalization Change

August 6, 2021

This analysis reviews marijuana legalization efforts in 2020-21 and identifies new trends in legalization. Continue Reading...


Ep. 34. Drugs on the Ballot

November 17, 2020

Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Institute, provides an update on the outcome of magic mushroom and marijuana ballot initiatives. Continue Reading...


Has Marijuana Provided a Blueprint for Magic Mushrooms?

October 2, 2020

This analysis explores the recent push to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in several cities and one state and examines similarities between these efforts and the legalization push for marijuana. Continue Reading...


Ep. 22. COVID-19: In the Weeds III

May 26, 2020

Heather Trela, director of operations and fellow at the Rockefeller Institute, discusses how COVID-19 is affecting the marijuana industry and efforts to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana at the state level. Continue Reading...


Ep. 15. Vaping in Real Time

December 3, 2019

On the latest episode of Policy Outsider, guests Heather Trela and Trevor Craft share insights from their research on the national vaping crisis. Continue Reading...


Why Is It So Hard to Pass Marijuana Policy Legislatively?

May 23, 2019

Historically, adult-use marijuana in the states has generally been passed through voter initiative. Of the 10 states that permit adult-use marijuana, only Vermont did so through the legislative process. Why have efforts to pass adult-use marijuana stalled legislatively while they have achieved better success through ballot measures? Continue Reading...


Ep. 8. In the Weeds II—A Gateway Drug for Federalism

April 26, 2019

We sit down with Heather Trela to understand why marijuana legalization efforts seem to have stalled in both New York and New Jersey and where we can expect things to go from here. Continue Reading...


Marijuana Policy — A Gateway Drug for Federalism: Six Issues States Need to Consider

March 13, 2019

Policymakers considering adult-use marijuana legalization are not doing so in a vacuum; to date, 10 states and the District of Columbia have already been down this path. The experiences of these states in the implementation process can serve as a potential roadmap to states that are contemplating legalization. Continue Reading...


Ep. 1. In the Weeds with Heather Trela

October 19, 2018

How can states legalize something that is illegal under federal law? Rockefeller Institute Chief of Staff and Fellow Heather Trela explains the growing tension between states and the federal government over marijuana policy, and where it may lead.  Continue Reading...


Can Marijuana Alleviate the Opioid Crisis? Data Suggest Yes

May 4, 2018

Policymakers and activists grappling with the opioid crisis are often stymied by budget constraints and a lack of evidence as to what actually works. Recent research, however, has found that legal access to marijuana may be a potential tool for addressing the epidemic. Continue Reading...


Commerce Department Adds Citizenship Question to 2020 Census

March 29, 2018

If the question goes into effect, states with considerable immigrant populations like New York are potentially more at risk for loss of federal aid. Continue Reading...


Clash of Laws: The Growing Dissonance between State and Federal Marijuana Policies

February 15, 2018

The Rockefeller Institute examines the growing separation between the federal government and the states when it comes to marijuana policy and the federalism implications of this divide Continue Reading...


Chaos in the States? AG Sessions Makes Move against State Legalized Marijuana

January 12, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to announce that the Department of Justice will rescind a policy that had allowed legal marijuana to expand in the states with limited interference from the federal government. Continue Reading...


Gambling with Federalism?

December 15, 2017

Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments for Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Continue Reading...


State Medicinal Marijuana Protections Hang in the Balance

December 1, 2017

This Friday is a looming deadline for Congress — unless lawmakers pass some sort of spending plan before midnight on December 8th, there may be a federal government shutdown. Continue Reading...


Civil Asset Forfeiture — Legalized Theft or Necessary Law Enforcement Tool?

November 29, 2017

In July 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Justice Department would allow federal agency forfeiture, also known as “federal adoptions” of assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies. Continue Reading...


A Burden Too Great to Bear: Addressing the Mounting Student Loan Debt Crisis

October 6, 2017

With U.S. student loan debt increasing at a rate of $2,671 per second, according to one measure, more and more states are stepping up to address the mounting crisis and protect borrowers. Continue Reading...


The Coming Federal and State Power Showdown — House Blocks Amendment to Protect Medical Marijuana in the States

August 8, 2017

Since 2014, the Department of Justice has been prohibited from using federal funds to interfere with the implementation of state laws that legalize the use of medical marijuana. Continue Reading...


When Misinformation Spirals Out of Control: The Case of a “Rigged” Constitutional Convention Process in New York State

August 7, 2017

As the vote to decide whether to convene a constitutional convention in New York State approaches, more information about the process for, and impact of, a potential convention is circulating. Continue Reading...


When State and Federal Laws Clash: The Possible Showdown Over Marijuana Laws

April 10, 2017

The 2016 election was memorable for many reasons, but lost in the shadow of the presidential outcome was the big night marijuana legislation had in the states. Continue Reading...