NORML Women’s Alliance: Connecting Female Activists
Big Sister Kyndra Miller and Little Sister Melissa Sanchez discuss their reasons for becoming activists in the marijuana reform movement, as well as their participation in the NORML Women’s Alliance burgeoning mentorship program, Sister-to-Sister. Both women currently live in California working as attorneys within the Cannabis Industry.
By: Brooke Napier, intern with Students for a Sensible Drug Policy
Why did you get involved with the marijuana reform movement?
Melissa: As a Mexican-American, I was motivated to join the marijuana reform movement because marijuana prohibition in this country stemmed from racism, with enforcement policies disproportionately affecting minority communities. My family and friends in Mexico live with fear of violence because of our drug policies. I had to get involved!
What is your Little Sister like? What has she voiced as being important for her to get out of Sister-to-Sister?
Kyndra: Melissa is a very smart and beautiful human being. When we first met, she was looking for someone in the movement to reach back and help her become a more informed activist. She told me that prior to signing up for Sister-to-Sister she was having difficulty finding someone that would be willing to take the time to talk to her. Melissa never ceases to amaze me with her many professional skills and gifts. We seem to really balance each other out. The experiences that I may not have – she has had – and vice versa. I am a firm believer that the personal is political. To that end, she has had a lifetime of experiences that led to her activism.
What kinds of activities are you planning on doing with your Sister?
Melissa: We have a tardeada, an afternoon party, planned for women in the movement in Fresno. At the High Times Cannabis Cup in June, we noticed that many women who were coming up to the NORML Women’s Alliance booth were from the Fresno area. Coincidentally, Fresno County passed a ridiculous anti-medical marijuana ordinance right before our event, so we expect a lot of people to come out and become activists.
Kyndra: During 2012 we will be expanding to other states within the western region. Our goal is to educate as many people as possible about drug policy reform.
Why do you ladies think Sister-to-Sister is so important?
Kyndra: If I had to isolate one aspect of the program that is most significant, it would have to be the creation of a social network among women. It has helped decrease the levels of loneliness and isolation that some women feel as they fight to end marijuana prohibition.
Melissa: Exactly. It helps create and bring together informed, thoughtful and enthusiastic women activists. I have met some incredible women as a result of my participation in the program. We then all go on to talk about Sister-to-Sister, or the NORML Women’s Alliance to other women, and more of us join. The excitement is contagious. We know we can foster significant change.
What advice would you give to women just getting involved in the marijuana reform movement?
Kyndra: The best advice that I can give is to sign up for Sister-to-Sistah!
[Sister to Sister: Cultivating Female Activists Mentoring Program is designed to recruit and retain female activists in the marijuana reform movement by establishing big sister, little sister, or sister-to-sister peer relationships for new and seasoned activists.]
August 24, 2011