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Want to Make a Difference? Get to DC in May.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel February 16, 2015

    NORML Legislative Fly-InNORML will be holding its 2015 Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC, on May 21 and 22, to lobby Congress on a number of pieces of pending legislation of interest to marijuana users. Please hold those dates and make plans now to join us this year. Registration for the Fly-In, along with the agenda for the two-days, is now available on the NORML website.

    An empowering experience

    For those who may not have previously taken the time to actually lobby your state or federal elected officials, I think you will find it an exhilarating and empowering experience.

    To finish this column, please go to Marijuana.com.

     

    9 Responses to “Want to Make a Difference? Get to DC in May.”

    1. TheOracle says:

      Crowd their offices. Better to know the particular talking points s/he is using to argue against to counter before going in there. Short of having a bunch of people in the waiting area shouting it simultaneously at Joe Pitts (R) PA, the man is just not listening. He is the kind of person who will have to see it for himself, such as shadow parents of a child suffering from seizures who is NOT being treated with cannabis, treated with only pharmaceuticals that are legal in a non-cannabis state (medical & recreational) and then shadow the child receiving cannabis and making observations in the hours afterward. People like him COuld just take Dr. Gupta’s word for it. Is it possible politicians haven’t seen any of the recent pro-cannabis evidence because they want to avoid having to admit they were wrong about cannabis and in light of new evidences will have to change the way they have been voting, ahem like change to voting pro-legalization. Short of treating them as children and not letting them get out of watching it and raising the volume, then it’s their inner circle who has to tell them to lighten up on the herb. Who’s in their inner circle, and send in a thought leader John Oliver style as Pharma does to pick up the tab to deliver the message over table talk. Nice to know how many pro-cannabis contacts these politicians have been receiving, broken down by phone, email, fax, personal visit, whatever to bitch about these politicians being secretive and ignoring a growing majority of the voters in their districts. Triple dippin Joe has got to go, either go pro-legalization or go home and stay home.

    2. Julian says:

      Alright, I’m in. I pushed off work until Saturday, I’m taking my laptop to get work done on downtime and I am lobbying my state legislators in Congress tomorrow in Austin, suit and tie.
      Here is the link to get registered if you can manage to get out of work between 10 and 3 tomorrow and make it to Austin:
      http://texasmarijuanapolicy.org/lobby-day-event-february-18/

      Texas has never been this close to passing medicinal marijuana and industrial hemp policy. There’s a decriminalization bill that was introduced this week;

      “Texas NORML participated, with our coalition partners at Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, in a press conference to announce the introduction on HB 507, by Representative Moody, which removes the threat of arrest, jail time and a criminal record for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and assessing violators with a $100 civil fine. Learn more about HB 507 at Texasnorml.org

      As far as Washington, D.C. the city of my birth, I can find my way around, but I already have plans to visit in a few weeks and pass through D.C. around March 13th, Friday, or possible the 14th, that Saturday. Getting back in May might be a problem for me. I would at least like to meet up with NORML at the headquarters there, and if there is an opportunity to lobby that Friday, I would greatly appreciate some coordination and preparation for that.

      Thank you NORML for leading the way for us to make a greater improvement in our Democracy. As much as I love discussing strategy on this blog, it is past time to be discussing and educating our Congressman. As a woman once told me in D.C.

      “Real people work for the government. You just have to find them and talk to them.”

    3. Macky Mccollum says:

      Sounds like a great event, someone wanna do a carpool type situation? I would love to go and show my support! I just need help on account of my agoraphobia and lack of funds. Pity!

    4. 23 states have legalized medical marijuana yet it remains a Schedule I drug under federal law. This conflict in federal and state laws is breaking up families, denying long suffering patients, easy access to medical marijuana, driving patients to drug cartels and other illegal sources for marijuana and costing taxpayers millions of dollars. See http://www.freemattdavies.com or http://www.federal-marijuana-laws.com. They need 100K signatures in March. http://federal-marijuana-laws.com Please help!

    5. Julian says:

      THAT was hilarious. I managed to convince my 25 year old younger brother, Manny, to join along to lobby our State Congress in Austin, TX. I stopped at his house on the south side of Austin, threw him a suit and some Florsheim shoes and we stopped at La Michoacana for tacos. We found green ties next door at a thrift store…
      …wait, it gets better.
      We met up with another mutual brother on the 14th floor balcony of an executive building overlooking the Texas State Capitol. There, I took some horrible C.S.I. Austin pictures of him overlooking the capitol wearing sunglasses in pose. (He should have worn the tie… I thought, he looks like a drug dealer…)
      It was almost 1 o’clock. Time to Lobby Congress.
      First place I drag him into is Our district Senator’s office, who turns out to be chairman of Texas Natural Resources.
      “Alright Manny, I’ll hit’m with the farmer’s story about drought and the hemp law, you tell them you’re a medical professional that delivers blood to cancer patients.”
      It was a good ploy. And true. My little brother really does deliver blood to cancer patients. It ‘s a good talking point.
      After signing in,
      (First Time Lobbying Rule 1: PLEASE don’t forget to sign in to the visitor ‘s log… And no; you DON’T have to fill out the column that asks for license plates numbers… Clearly, someone was REALLY bored when they made that column. NO one fills that out), We continued to what appeared to be a glass booth with no staff aid or secretary. Two old men with beards opened the next door and passed us grunting with sarcastic success.
      (First Time Lobby Rule 2: never underestimate old men. They are slow, yet cantankerously persistent creatures that will waste no opportunity to school you on lobbying by beating you casually to the door).
      Then you meet the AID. You always know it’s the Senator’s AID because he smiles like he (or she) knows you because they smile when they say. “Oooooh… The Senator is BOOKED all daaay…”
      (First Time Lobbying Rule number 3; RESPECTFULLY read the name of the Chief of Staff as you POLITELY walk towards the next available staff member… It’s kind of a greet-walk-and-talk; it’s all one motion… :-) )
      Warning: you will VERY likely get stuck talking to their P. R. Expert BUT…
      (First Time Lobbying Rule #4; You could hear a pin drop in the whole tiny office when you ask within earshot of your Congressman,

      “What is the Senator’s position on cannabis decriminalization?”)

      In that moment, I understood what Keith meant in this article when he called lobbying for marijuana an “empowering experience.”

      I went from HR 507 introduced in the Texas House which reduces small possession penalties to a $100 fine with no jail time (THANK YOU Representative Moody from EL Paso!!!)…
      To Industrial Hemp using half the water than corn or cotton while producing twice the fiber, protein and JOBS… (No herbicides or pesticides required)
      To the benefit of medical marijuana patients not having to go to jail before providing an affirmative defense they qualify for medicinal marijuana…

      The highlight of the afternoon had to be when Representative Jason Isaac of district 45 caught my eye with a wide grin after I told one of his staff workers “I even have cannabis in my HAIR… I’m not kidding… FAIR TRADE, LEGAL cannabis, mind you, but believe me, I was SURPRISED to read the ingredients,[ I was like ‘ Woody’s Clay; Petrolatum Kaolin… Beeswax… Cannabis Sativa Oil? Reaally?] That got everyone laughing and relating to the relevance of what I had to say. Then I said,
      “And we ‘re just GIVING all that money to the CANADIANS? We could be growing that cannabis here in Texas.”
      I was already on the fact that the State of Washington was feeding all their leftover cannabis stems and roots to their pigs and “their hogs are turning out with %40 leaner, better-tasting meat.”
      The staff member’s eyes lit up when she said “REALLY?!” (I guess she likes bacon… But who doesn ‘t?)
      (First Time Lobbyist Rule #5; When another staff member cuts in and apologizes that she has another meeting in 5 minutes, pass out a flyer on medical marijuana and quote “NORML.org” and in my case, the newly formed “Texas Hemp Industries Association.”)
      Then skiddadle and go consume some marijuana off capitol grounds in peace.

      Good luck fellow NORML lobbyists. More than 300 well dressed Texans showed up to lobby yesterday, filling up the Robert Lee Johnson Conference Room TWICE in one hour. Congratulations Texas; I think our State Congress heard us VERY well.

    6. Mark I. says:

      Very good advice Julian. My visit to the KS legislature during their hearings was empowering, until I found out they have not gotten out of the hearing stage since 2007. The female senator entered the room flanked by two very large and well dressed highway patrol officers because of fear the whole room was full of druggies. Pitiful for the patients to witness the games played in the statehouses.

    7. Mark I. says:

      Old legislators will retire and leave the states’ fiscal responsibilities to their progeny. Do your jobs now so our children have good examples of cooperation and mutual respect.

    8. jack says:

      Greetings, I til now, I’ve been a silent warrior for pot legalization.
      It’s time I step up and join some organization. However, I don’t know where to start.

      Please guide me someone. I have a journalism background also. So I’d love to utilize that.

      Thanks, Jack

    9. Julian says:

      @Jack;
      Start local.
      Check out your local NORML chapter and click on the action button on this page. Report to your state and local Congressman what you observe in your community between prohibition and potential regulation. That’s where I would start.

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