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Want To Learn More About Legal Pot? Head to Aspen.

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel May 18, 2015

    6_8_NORMLK.StroupPortrait_zWe sponsor two legal seminars each year at NORML, one in Key West, Florida, in early December, and the other in Aspen, Colorado, in late May/early June. Those are two wonderful venues for those who are looking for a mini-vacation, in addition to a valuable legal seminar. The 2015 Aspen legal seminar will be held next week (May 28-30) at the Gant Hotel.

    This seminar is available for non-lawyers, as well as attorneys, for those who have an interest in the criminal defense and regulatory side of the legalization movement. And a visit to Aspen, now that marijuana has been legalized in Colorado, provides an excellent opportunity for those from other states to see what legalization actually looks and feels like, since there are now several legal dispensaries operating in Aspen. If you have not yet had the pleasure of walking into a retail store to legally purchase your marijuana, now is your chance. It is an empowering experience, and one that reinforces the importance of ending prohibition.

    At NORML our basic goal is to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, regardless of why one smokes. Until we achieve that ultimate goal, we also do our best to provide assistance and support to victims of the current laws. The NORML Legal Committee (NLC), comprised of several hundred criminal defense and business attorneys, plays a major role in providing that support. NORML is the only legalization organization that has a legal committee, sponsors legal seminars, or that provides legal assistance or advice to those who have been arrested or who need legal assistance entering the legal marijuana market.

    Lawyers who specialize in defending victims of prohibition, and business lawyers who represent the interests of the newly legal marijuana businesses in several states, are a special breed. Motivated by their commitment to legal marijuana, they have chosen a legal specialty that may not pay them the financial rewards they could make practicing corporate law, or probate law, or personal injury law, or many other higher-paying fields of practice; but they are at the cutting edge of the legal profession, willing to push the cultural and legal envelope. They generally feel an emotional and cultural attachment to the legalization movement, and most would tell you they get far more personal satisfaction by helping their clients stay out of jail on a marijuana charge (or avoid a criminal charge altogether), or by helping new marijuana entrepreneurs through the labyrinth of regulations and permits necessary to enter these newly legal markets, than they would get from helping rich individuals or institutions get richer, which is what many lawyers do.

    This group of committed lawyers draws strength and knowledge from attending these seminars, and from the opportunity to spend time with their legal colleagues from around the county. It reminds us all of why we do what we do, and it empowers us to go forth and fight the good fight. Being an effective lawyer means trying new theories and defenses, and not being discouraged by the fact that we are not always successful. If it were easy, the clients would not need an attorney.

    Because we have room at our Aspen venue (unfortunately we do not have extra room at our Key West venue), we permit non-lawyers to attend at a discounted registration fee. And those non-lawyers who do attend report they enjoy the opportunity to meet some of the leading NLC attorneys in an informal setting, and they find fascinating the internal debates and discussions regarding legal theories and new challenges being faced by this group of attorneys. It’s a rare opportunity to be part of this subset of NORML, and one well worth experiencing.

    In addition to the seminar, social events where one can relax and get to know the other attendees, including the speakers, include an opening reception on Thursday night; a benefit dinner at the lovely home of Christine and Gerry Goldstein in Aspen on Friday evening , catered by Chris Lanter, chef and co-owner of the trendy Cache Cache restaurant in Aspen; and a Saturday afternoon cookout with live music at Owl Farm, the legendary Woody Creek home of the late Hunter S. Thompson, outside of Aspen a few miles.

    If the 2015 NORML Aspen Legal Seminar and related social events is of interest, whether you are an attorney or someone who follows the legalization movement and wishes to learn more, you can still register for this seminar on line and join us in Aspen next week. I hope to see you there.

     

    This column was originally published on Marijuana.com.

    http://news.marijuana.com/news/2015/05/annual-norml-aspen-legal-seminar-a-great-experience-for-lawyers-and-non-lawyers-alike/

    16 Responses to “Want To Learn More About Legal Pot? Head to Aspen.”

    1. Eric K. Johnson says:

      I wish I were able to attend. I hope someone will broach the issue of Illinois’s cruel and unusual exclusion of former ( certified ill and disabled) cannabis criminals from medical treatment in the form of medicinal cannabis therapy.

      There is no money or profit involved in correcting this injustice…just correcting injustice…I hope that moves someone’s memory back to the seminal reason they decided to practice law?

    2. Anonymous says:

      In the early days, they used Reefer Madness propaganda styled hyperbole to whip up fear of smoking marihuana in the unsophisticated populace. They also gave unfettered enforcement to a federal agency, so it must be really bad stuff, thought the people.

      Later they gave it a definition which had so many words, and sentences, and punctuation that it was hard for people to discern what that fearful substance was, but they trusted the Feds to guard them from it.

      With a definition having so many words, it was less of a definition and more of a riddle, but the Court found a way to interpret it as being Not Unconstitutional. Although it was temporarily put into Schedule 1, it was an OK definition, said the Court.

      With Schedule 1 support, the Fed’s enforcement agency literally found a way to interpret the words in that definition which was unconstitutional. They equated marihuana with cannabis, its parts, its seeds, and its products, and they influenced other lower level enforcement agencies to do so.

      So here we are with States trying to make a distinction that the Feds won’t make, and that the Feds don’t like either. Their
      resistance is incredible.

      The President sees this. Someday, maybe Congress will too. In the absence of any reform to that federal definition by
      Congress to make the definition obviously constitutional by isolating the concept of “smoking marihuana”, We the People have an opportunity to get the Feds to make that distinction.

      Sign up to join this petition to use science in the cause of justice to make the DEA interpret that definition in a manner which conforms to the Constitution:

      http://wh.gov/iBhYU

      How can a truly constitutional definition have multiple interpretations? Disregarding the Necessary and Proper clause seems to be the way. How to put that question before the Court?

      This year is a good time to take action.

    3. YearofAction says:

      In the early days, they used Reefer Madness propaganda styled hyperbole to whip up fear of smoking marihuana in the unsophisticated populace. They also gave unfettered enforcement to a federal agency, so it must be really bad stuff, thought the people.

      Later they gave it a definition which had so many words, and sentences, and punctuation that it was hard for people to discern what that fearful substance was, but they trusted the Feds to guard them from it.

      With a definition having so many words, it was less of a definition and more of a riddle, but the Court found a way to interpret it as being Not Unconstitutional. Although it was temporarily put into Schedule 1, it was an OK definition, said the Court.

      With Schedule 1 support, the Fed’s enforcement agency literally found a way to interpret the words in that definition which was unconstitutional. They equated marihuana with cannabis, its parts, its seeds, and its products, and they influenced other lower level enforcement agencies to do so.

      So here we are with States trying to make a distinction that the Feds won’t make, and that the Feds don’t like either. Their
      resistance is incredible.

      The President sees this. Someday, maybe Congress will too. In the absence of any reform to that federal definition by
      Congress to make the definition obviously constitutional by isolating the concept of “smoking marihuana”, We the People have an opportunity to get the Feds to make that distinction.

      Sign up to join this petition to use science in the cause of justice to make the DEA interpret that definition in a manner which conforms to the Constitution:

      http://wh.gov/iBhYU

      How can a truly constitutional definition have multiple interpretations? Disregarding the Necessary and Proper clause seems to be the way. How to put that question before the Court?

      This year is a good time to take action.

    4. Eric K. Johnson says:

      If Dan Riffle attends ,would someone please remind him of his promise to me?…”Sooner rather than later”, Dan?…it’s getting very late…I’m hoping to consume legal cannabis (at least once) before I die…minus being classified an “excluded/denied” Cannabis Criminal.

    5. Julian says:

      It occurs to me from reading this article how ordinary American citizens have had to learn more than they would have liked in Legalese from having had to defend themselves from recognizably unjust, unconstitutional prohibition.

      Even better, marijuana (whether we are talking about “marihuana” or otherwise) makes Legalese interesting, if nothing more than developing the emotional quotient and courage to face our corrupt elected representatives and officials in the face and watch them squirm to answer politely asked, fair questions about the legality and cost of marijuana prohibition.

      If you can generally read faces and body language, it’s downright entertaining to speak to law enforcement, Congressman or even city council members. Looking at people in the eyes and eloquently making a point within the first five minutes of conversation can accomplish so much more in so little time than emails or even phone calls can do. Lawyers and advocates need practice, which is largely why I blog on this page, so we marijuana advocates can improve our game when the opportunity arises that we do meet someone influential in drug policy, and we are armed with the correct vocabulary in which to implement our lobbying strategy.

      I once went to a Chamber of Commerce luncheon sponsored by our local Mayoral race and brought up industrial hemp. I could see in person who was playing coy, like they knew nothing, who was avidly living in fear, and who just thought it was hilariously brave and entertaining of me to mention hemp at all.

      I’m not growing fields of hemp on my ranch, (even if I plan to legalize it anyway, regardless if RepubliCan’t Todd Hunter let it fall out of Calander Committee); It’s just a matter of time and persistence, of which I fortunately have both. And besides, the local law enforcement already did their fly-overs on my tax dime, and I have nothing to fear about organizing a town hall with local law enforcement to really bring this issue out to attention.

    6. TheOracle says:

      I’d love to attend, but I MUST work. If you could look me up on LinkedIn and throw me at cannabis companies looking to employ someone, well . . . You have my information on file, searchable by my email address.

      Okay, I stopped daydreaming now.

      Have a great time! I hope you can get things in the East Coast kick-started. Feds are still holding up the progress by blocking DC funding, you know.

    7. John says:

      I’ve lived in Denver for many years and have watched the legality of cannabis up close. As such it’s concerning to me that NORML
      continues to use the term ” marajuana” when referring to cannabis. We in Colorado are careful to call the plant ” cannabis” -the scientific and more respectful name-not the “Reefer Madness” racist name the prohibitionists gave it-“marajuana”. Also NORML continues to say ” smoking” when discussing cannabis use. 75% of recreational cannabis sales in Colorado are edibles. This industry is moving past the old generation of pot smokers who don’t want to smoke anything but wish to enjoy cannabis.

      [Editor’s note: You in Colorado did not vote to legalize ‘cannabis’ or even ‘medical cannabis’, your ballot initiatives and statutory laws refer to the plant, like federal legislation and court dicta too, as marijuana (some courts and legislatures use the spelling ‘marihuana’).

      Everyone knows the history of the word ‘marijuana’ is derived from racism. That’s not new news.
      However, NORML is not going to change it’s famous name and brand to NORCL. Not going to happen.
      Think NAACP…anyone being called negroes these days?

      Re ‘smoking’, NORML does not sanction any term to describe imbibing (or medicate) the substance. The blog post you’re responding to, the author chose to employ the word ‘smoking’. Why not, that is how 95% of US market prefers to imbibe (or medicate) the substance? In CO, the marketplace is not dominated by edibles. About 35-40% of the market is edibles, not 75%.

      Many speculate the reason why the percentage of edibles in CO is surprisingly high is because of the dysfunctionality in the law currently that does not allow for the public use of ‘smoked’ or ‘vaporized’ cannabis products, most acutely for CO’s large and intrigued tourist population, that literally have no place to legally smoke/vape cannabis products (can’t use outdoors or in public places, almost all hotels don’t allow tobacco or cannabis smoking; half the state land is controlled by federal laws), so they’re buying cannabis edibles instead.

      At NORML, tolerance of language and custom is respected, so if an author wants to use terms like ‘smoke’, ‘vape’, ‘eat’, ‘ingest’ and, this author’s preferred description ‘consume’ (because of it’s universality), they’re not going to be punished by the politically correct pot police.

      Lastly, neither the terms ‘marijuana’ or ‘cannabis’ are regularly employed in daily language as most cannabis consumers, including in CO, use terms like ganja, weed, pot, nugs, spliff, oil, bud, blunts, cheeba, etc…literally no one says to another “Do you have any cannabis to buy?” or “Let’s go smoke some marijuana!”.

      Both words are legalisms, with one based in proper botany (cannabis), the other in racism (marijuana).]

    8. TheOracle says:

      With certain people it might be better to use the term cannabis, but there is the Marijuana Enforcement Division. The older folks who view marijuana as having a negative connotation are dying off. It’s just another load word from a foreign language like spaghetti or bon appetit or something.

      http://hightimes.com/read/pennsylvania-governor-wants-decriminalize-marijuana

      http://hightimes.com/read/pennsylvania-governor-wants-decriminalize-marijuana

      The reporters says Governor about his reasons why marijuana overall should be legal.

      http://hightimes.com/read/pennsylvania-governor-wants-decriminalize-marijuana

      There’s been a cannabis café open in Guildford, UK, for a month.

      http://hightimes.com/read/pennsylvania-governor-wants-decriminalize-marijuana

      Pot, the movie. Can you make is audience participation somehow like Rocky Horror Picture Show? Remake the cult classic RHPS with lots of pro-weed audience participation, things they could shout out, not necessarily smoking in the theatre.

      http://hemp.org/news/node/5386

      National Geographic to feature Weed: The New Science of Marijuana, so is there going to be a companion or synergistic pro-cannabis tv mini-series to go along with this? Use the edition to launch the tv show on NatGeo tv. Other pro-cannabis new tv specilas on other channels could also benefit in ratings. You know when viewers know that the news show is going to do a segment on marijuana that it’s at the end because viewers will stayed tuned in, glued in their seats to they don’t miss it.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/21/national-geographic-weed-cover-medical-marijuana_n_7365412.html

    9. TheOracle says:

      Sorry about getting my links messed up.

      Here’s the link for the UK cannabis café, but it’s in Dutch.

      http://www.rollingstoned.nl/22-5-15-welja-cannabiscafe-in-groot-brittannie/

      What Governor Wolf says about overall legalization is at about 0:58 into the clip.

      Jim Kenney is likely to become Mayor of Philadelphia, and Governor Wolf is for legalization. Philly is raising property taxes 9.3%, but how much could that be reduced if Philly legalized and taxed cannabis? Wolf would have to hold the prohibitionist dawgz back, keep them off. Philly and de Blasio’s NYC legalize in concert? Now that would be something!

    10. Matthew says:

      Regarding above Editor’s Note: I was exclusively convicted of “marahuana” (sic) about 20 years ago. I only had a small, marble smoking pipe, in my VW trunk. A cop was following, several cars behind, one Sunday afternoon; he never put his lights on or anything. I pulled into a parking lot and went into a restaurant. Half way through lunch, he came in with another cop, took my keys out of my pocket, and searched my parked car. I emphatically refused consent to search. There was not enough residue in the small pipe to produce a puff of smoke. My public defender told me, before the judge, that if I wanted a Motion to Supress – she’d walk out, and I’d get 12 months in jail. “Look at the judge,” she warned me, right in front of him, “he’s an old man!” I was convicted of possesion of ‘excess of $1,000 worth of CDS”, plus alcohol DUI – and there was no such of either whatsoever. Jail itself was actually a very fun experience, for the 30 hours I had it. But I missed one parole meeting, and the parole officer (who sat in front of me in high school homeroom – small world) revoked my ARD. BTW, when I walked in the courtroom foyer, the prosecutor shot out, across the room, at me, “Is that a hemp suit? Can I feel it?” I even gave him a hemp info booklet on hemp paper. “Can I keep this?” He was flabbergasted. I, however, am still devastated by my 20 yeat old BS conviction. I ran into lots of old friends, in jail – and I call it ‘the safest motel I ever stayed in’. I wish I had a photo of myself, there – with hot tea with sugar, a lit cigar, and my feet up on the TV stand, reclining on a couch by myself, in the jail clothes and sneakers! So, the courts and police records all exclusively spell it, “marahuana”, in all of my files. It’s a sore.

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