The $100,000 NORML Challenge from Rick Steves and Justin Hartfield

  • by Norm Kent, NORML Board of Directors September 6, 2013

    Board chair note:

    NORML’s board of directors has always consisted of a wide variety and array of stakeholders who support ending cannabis prohibition. At the most recent Annual Meeting of the board, members elected five new directors to serve three-year terms.

    We’re blessed that two of these newly elected directors, Rick Steves and Justin Hartfield, are taking it upon themselves to increase the amount of resources the staff has available to accomplish their dual tasks of both reforming cannabis laws and helping the victims of the prohibition laws.

    Both Rick and Justin are accomplished businessmen who believe strongly in NORML’s mission.

    Rick is America’s best selling travel author and host of the popular and long-running PBS series Travels With Rick Steves. Rick was the co-petitioner (and a major funder) for his home state of Washington’s successful cannabis legalization voter initiative last year.

    Justin is the founder behind WeedMaps, the most successful online commercial company to date in the cannabis community (that is not directly marketing cannabis products) and a major donor to numerous cannabis law reform organizations.

    Norm Kent, Esq.
    Chairman, NORML board of directors
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    The $100,000 NORML Challenge from Rick Steves and Justin Hartfield

    Dear NORML members and supporters,

    When the federal government announced that Washington and Colorado were free to legalize, tax, and regulate the sale and recreational use of marijuana, the term "Lower 48" took on a new meaning in my mind. Bit by bit, that Lower 48 will join the "Tokin’ Two" and the USA will be finished with the war on pot. At least that’s the challenge before us now.

    When I joined NORML a decade ago, no politician I know would stand by our cause. Today I have a copy of a letter on my desk signed by both Washington State senators and nearly our entire congressional delegation asking President Obama to support the will of the people in our state. Just this morning I got a phone call from our governor, Jay Inslee, to thank me for the work the drug reform activists in our state have done and to say he was eager to work with us to make this new approach to marijuana work.

    NORML Fundraising Challenge

    In other words, together–under the leadership of NORML–we, the people, are ending the US war on pot. With the last election and with this week’s announcement from the attorney general in Washington DC, we are beautifully positioned to make sure a responsible, adult American citizen is never again arrested for enjoying the beauties of recreational marijuana.

    But this doesn’t just happen. Tens of millions of Americans enjoy marijuana. But only ‘tens of hundreds’ are actively involved in taking the crime out of its use with a substantial personal commitment of time or financial support. I’ve spent lots of time and money at this and, given our successes in the last year, it’s been time and money brilliantly spent. It’s a pure joy to be in this battle with others in the drug reform movement–especially my friends at NORML.

    With this letter I’m challenging you to join me and my partners at NORML to empower our organization to build on our recent triumphs. In other words, if you care about legalizing pot in the USA, it’s time for you to kick in some serious money.

    We’re all in this together. And we’re doing what we can to defend the civil liberties of American pot smokers. Many give their time, talents, and money–depending on what they’ve got to give. Sadly, many more just toke away and watch from the sidelines while NORML fights their battle. My fellow NORML board member Justin Hartfield (of WeedMaps) and I have pledged $100,000 to challenge the huge family of NORML members and friends to get engaged and to match us.

    This is an historic moment as people power is bringing down the US war on marijuana. And now is the time to help fund NORML’s work. NORML is fighting for each of us, and it can’t happen without our collective financial support. That’s why Justin and I are challenging you to step up to the plate and be a contributing part of this winning team. Donate whatever you can, and–up to a total of $100,000–Justin and I will match you. That doubles the power of your gift.

    Donations of appreciated stocks and in-kind donations are always welcomed.

    Think of how far we’ve come. Think of the heroic contribution drug warriors on the NORML team have made over the decades. Think of how our country is ripe for progress in drug policy reform. And now it’s time for a little heroism from you. Together we can make NORML $200,000 stronger. Dig deep and give a little bigger than normal for NORML… right now.

    While I’ve been a marijuana law reform activist for over 35 years, this past week’s Department of Justice memo allowing legalization to move forward in the states of Colorado and Washington, along with today’s 25th anniversary of the momentous legal decision by DEA judge Francis Young in the seminal marijuana legal challenge known as ‘NORML vs. DEA’ (ruling in NORML’s favor to reschedule marijuana for medicinal purposes) clearly demonstrate that American’s long suffering war against marijuana consumers is drawing closer and closer to an end.


    Rick Steves
    Edmonds, WA

    Justin Hartfield
    Irvine, CA

    17 Responses to “The $100,000 NORML Challenge from Rick Steves and Justin Hartfield”

    1. RH says:

      It is very disappointing that this campaign did not reach the donation goal of $100K (26% with 2 days to go). The community should have met this goal in one day. The WePay system could have been one, albiet small, barrier for the donors to hurdle. The donation webpage should have had the $4.20 donation amount at the top, front and center of the page: The lead off amount of $5K was probably off putting for many (note the number of broke people posting comments via facebook on the donation page). This campaign needs better promotion…everyone donate $4.20. Put this front and center on the NORML website and facebook comment. Would love to see this goal met.

      Everyone in the country who uses cannabis should dontate $4.20 to this cause.

    2. Anonymous says:

      legalities don’t cost money

    3. David says:

      I’m disabled and nearly homeless, but I still need marijuana as told by two doctor’s to treat various disabling symptoms. I’ve donated a small amount ($20.00)and truly believe most person’s can donate some amount, be it $5.00 or $50,000.00 to support this cause we all want to have passed. Also over the past week I’ve voted over 300 times for the Intuit Big Game/Norml advertisement to run during the Super Bowl. Come on folks this is the very least you can do!!

    4. Dan cox says:

      When it’s a legetimate problem you are growin for and being treated for then why is there a problem paying your taxes and sharing your knowledge on the pot man. Fuqit dude chill pay ur fees let the govt do what they do n live your life… All my friends do the low rider… :0)

    5. still waiting says:

      In an earlier post I wrote “because the real people that don’t want the marijuana laws changed are the people that donated to his campaign”. I was speaking of Mike Pence’s campaign doners.
      Okay, I would like to say that I’m not sure what the doners stance is on marijuana laws, but I’m pretty sure there is at least one that stands to benifit by haveing marijuana laws un-changed.
      I don’t think that it is fair to say that all the Governors doners share his opinion.
      :this post was an update due to, un-obtainable information regarding the editing of previous post

    6. still waiting says:

      I really appreciate the work and sweat people have put into helping states have new and better marijuana laws, but I have noticed other than New York, its been the Democratic states that have been fortunate enough to have their laws changed.
      I live in Indiana and our Governor, Mike Pence, still thinks that marijuana is a gate way drug. I’m not even going to try and convice them other wise, because the real people that don’t want the marijuana laws changed are the people that donated to his campaign.
      Mike Pence is not a King nor a dictator he works for the people of Indiana and the voice of the people is not being heard.
      Is there not a way to work around these republican politicians or maybe swoop around them and pick up the voices of the people in these Republican states. If not; There Should Be. That swoop should be led by your company and the many other hard working companies out there trying to change Marijuana laws for the better.
      I hope this post is taken well. I try, and will continue to try, to have an open mind and not think selfishly about other states having their laws changed and not my own. How ever it sure would feel better knowing that my contributions are going to a to help the laws in other states as well as My own.

    7. KusherNews says:

      First, I’d like to thank you Rick on behalf of what you call “the ones on the sidelines”, for your generous contributions, patience, and perseverance.

      Please don’t think for a moment that your incredible efforts, achieving such big monster success in the war agains prohibition aren’t being acknowledged by the general public. The entire nation is watching, praying and pushing for you!

      With that being said, there is no doubt in my mind that what prevents people from coming out of the shadows is somewhat related to the terminology. Let’s leave the bad image in the past, and end the stigmatic corporate branding of this beautiful plant.

      It’s called Cannabis, NOT Marijuana!

      Drive this Cannabis re-branding movement to the lower 48 states, and the public will sure come out of the shadows and give you the support you need.

      Keep pushing forward,
      Chris Kusher

      [Editor’s note: This is an old and tired debate, and an unnecessary one as 1) cannabis is just one of many acceptable names along with marijuana, 2) Media, government legislation, legal research and search engines are largely employing the term ‘marijuana’, so persons or businesses that choose to use the term ‘cannabis’ over ‘marijuana’ will get less traffic and views, 3) trying to make others be politically correct re use of chosen language is almost always a futile waste of time. Will the racist-tinged term ‘marihuana’ (now commonly spelled ‘marijuana’, unless the text is the Supreme Court or Harvard scholars, who both tend to employ the previous spelling) be used less after prohibition? Maybe. Will it matter? 4) opponents for decades have accused reformers of ‘trying to hide the ball’ by calling cannabis ‘pot’, ‘weed’, ‘ganja’ and ‘medicine’ that people should use whatever term they’re most comfortable with as the central point in the eight decade old public policy debate is not the word that describes the plant in question, it is the PROHIBITION of the plant.]

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