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NORML Chapters Energized and Organized for 2018 Lobby Days

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director December 31, 2017

    Legalize marijuanaAs support for marijuana legalization in America reaches an all-time high, NORML chapters are hoping to tap into the energy and enthusiasm of their most ardent supporters for their 2018 lobby days. According to the most recent nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup, Sixty-four percent of US adults support the legalization of adult-use marijuana. That’s why NORML chapters are gearing up for an aggressive push to advance marijuana law reforms in states across the country.

    Looking Back

    As the year comes to an close, NORML chapters have certainly earned the right to celebrate their hard work and a very productive year. With a record number of state-level lobby days, the passage of several decriminalization measures and a strong presence at congressional town hall meetings, and legislative offices, NORML chapters had an undeniable impact on marijuana policy in 2017.

    To kick things off earlier this year, NORML chapters around the country organized more than two dozen lobby days, where legislative victories ranged from an effort by Virginia NORML to end automatic driver’s license suspension for marijuana possession, to a push by Delaware NORML that resulted in the passage of a marijuana legalization bill out of committee. A first for the Delaware legislature.

    After wrapping up state legislative sessions, NORML chapters continued their work well into the summer months, but shifted their focus to local efforts. While some chapters dedicated their time to collecting signatures for statewide marijuana law reform initiatives and others to community outreach projects, NORML KC, Peachtree NORML, Madison NORML and Ohio NORML set their sights on decriminalization. Each chapter was successful in reducing the penalties for personal possession of marijuana in their community from a criminal infraction to a simple fine or no fine at all.

    Following a busy summer filled with local activism and congressional town hall meetings, chapter leadership from around the country gathered in our nation’s capital for NORML’s 2017 Conference and Lobby in Washington DC. With the help of NORML’s political team led by Justin Strekal, NORML coordinated more than 150 meetings with congressional offices, and to the surprise of many, a face-to-face meeting with Senator Cory Booker, who recently introduced The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017.

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    Looking Ahead

    With the new year quickly approaching, NORML Chapters around the country are busy mobilizing supporters in advance of their 2018 lobby days. NORML activists will be meeting with state representatives where they’ll help educate them about the advantages of ending marijuana prohibition and encourage support for dozens of statewide reform bills. To date, Virginia NORML, NORML KC, NORML of Florida, Lehigh Valley NORML, NORML Women of Washington, Pittsburgh NORML, Ohio NORML, Missouri NORML, Illinois NORML, Delaware NORML, Kentucky NORML, Maryland NORML, New Mexico NORML, Wyoming NORML and Greater St. Louis NORML have scheduled the first round of NORML lobby days for the new year.

    In Pennsylvania, Jeff Reidy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML will be in Harrisburg with a broad coalition consisting of marijuana activists from the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and several other NORML chapters for what’s expected to be one of the largest grassroots marijuana-centric lobby days in the state’s history. With Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients now receiving their state registration cards and the expected opening of dispensaries in early 2018, the coalition will be pushing for statewide decriminalization.

    “Marijuana activism begins with NORML. Being a member of this organization implies a desire to push our agenda, while engaging policy makers,” said Reidy. “Lobbying our elected officials is the simplest way to deliver the voice of the people to our politicians. We only win when we engage, speak out, endure, and fight for our freedoms. It’s time to Lobby!”

    In Washington State, where medical and adult-use marijuana is already legal, Danica Noble, executive director of NORML Women of Washington and her colleagues with Washington NORML will be focused on protecting progress and expanding the rights of marijuana consumers by addressing issues like home cultivation and workplace discrimination.

    “In Washington State, our top legislative priorities will be on legalizing homegrows, expunging felony convictions for simple possession, and establishing workplace protections for marijuana consumers, said Noble. “In addition to not having the legal right to grow our own marijuana, marijuana consumers in Washington are being denied employment opportunities and still carry the burden of a felony conviction for simple possession. This has to change.”

    While the legislative priorities of each NORML chapter can vary, the goals of protecting the rights of marijuana consumers and ending marijuana prohibition are shared by all.

    Empowerment Resources

    To support these grassroots lobbying efforts, we recently updated NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide. This comprehensive guide will assist NORML activists in the planning and execution of a successful lobby day and also provides organizational checklists and a legislative questionnaire. So regardless of the state or legal status of marijuana, NORML activists will be fully prepared to discuss meaningful marijuana law reforms and effectively communicate NORML’s message of ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.

    NORML Lobby Guide: http://norml.org/pdf_files/NORML_CitizenLobbyGuide.pdf

    NORML’s Action Center

    In addition to offering support through NORML’s Citizen Lobby Guide, we have created more than a dozen action alerts targeting lawmakers across the country urging their support for marijuana law reform legislation being considered in their state. To join the conversation, simply click on the link below, find the action alert for your state and enter your information!

    NORML Action Center: http://norml.org/act

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    For more information about a NORML’s 2018 Chapter Lobby Days, please email Chapters@NORML.org or visit http://norml.org/about/chapter-calendar for list of upcoming chapter lobby days and meetings.

    8 responses to “NORML Chapters Energized and Organized for 2018 Lobby Days”

    1. Dwayne Oxford says:

      Our hue and cry NEEDS to be “Return our God given herbal FREEDOM!! to grow and use our own medicine. Genesis 1:29
      And God said, Behold, I have given you every EVERY!! herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and(ALSO) every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. I steady shame them for taking bribes(campaign contributions) from lucifer’s pharma and keeping God’s BEST healing herb illegal, forcing folks to resort to pharma’s poisonous concoctions for relief.

    2. TheOracle says:

      I want to see legalization happen in Pennsylvania. It’d be nice to go for legalization right away before decriminalization, but the politicians aren’t there, yet. Our Pennsylvania Republican politicians are far too often of the same mindset as Jeff Sessions when it comes to cannabis, especially the ones who claim to represent Lancaster County. The Rs got their expanded gambling to try to fill the budget gap, but no place in Lancaster County will allow expanded gambling, but there ARE places in the county for the state’s medical marijuana program, crappy as the laws are because they don’t allow bud to be sold because they’re afraid people will smoke it. Even if you have your MMJ card, if you have bud, you’re busted. It’s a cave-in to cops.

      Les, I will be giving Keystone Cannabis Coalition my first 2018 donation soon.

      “In Pennsylvania, Jeff Reidy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML will be in Harrisburg with a broad coalition consisting of marijuana activists from the Keystone Cannabis Coalition and several other NORML chapters for what’s expected to be one of the largest grassroots marijuana-centric lobby days in the state’s history. With Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients now receiving their state registration cards and the expected opening of dispensaries in early 2018, the coalition will be pushing for statewide decriminalization.”

    3. Julian says:

      Registration for lobby training days in Texas are filling up. http://www.texasnorml.org
      Even though the legislative Session is in 2019 at the beginning of next year, these training sessions are a great opportunity to prepare our strategy, messaging and confidence.
      Also, there are a number of state and federal reps in Texas with friendly marijuana policy agendas this year if we vet them enough now on the campaign to make them understand that supporting legalization gets our votes, and gets us out to vote in November. We have an excellent opportunity to get marijuana reforming reps in office before the 2019 legislative session if we organize now. Thats what lobby training is for.

    4. Dain Bramage says:

      It seems to me that we’ve largely broken through the deceptions of institutionalized reefer-madness. Even though the propagandists for marijuana prohibition still relentlessly continue to peddle their horseshit, much of America now views cannabis in a much more rational light.

      Although it depends on where you live quite a bit, you will find fewer and fewer people who are shocked to learn that cannabis has medical value, or who would view you with alarm if they discovered you were “on drugs” (an old-fashioned term for having recently used cannabis.)

      I suspect that the local activists mentioned above, working on a state and municipal level, are achieving two things: a) harm reduction, which immediately and tangibly improves people’s lives; and b) changing hearts and minds across America, which is less tangible, but still of fundamental importance.

      I am humbled by these unsung heroes.

      So, to them I say: Here’s A Toast!

    5. Melissa O'Shields says:

      ACTION ALERT!
      Georgia Water Coalition Grassroots Training Opportunity
      Midwest Academy founder and author of Organizing for Social Change, Jackie Kendall, will be on Georgia’s coast for a unique 2-day training opportunity this January! The Choosing to Lead conference will be held on Jekyll Island on January 13-14. Jackie will lead three workshops on Saturday and a field trip on Sunday. On Saturday, her sessions will focus on the basics of organizing, how to recruit others and develop a message, and how to devise a winning strategy for your issue. On Sunday, she will facilitate an action-oriented session on community leadership at the historic Harrington School on St. Simons Island.

      About the Midwest Academy:
      The Midwest Academy is a national training institute committed to advancing the struggle for social, economic, and racial justice. From local neighborhood groups to statewide and national organizations, Midwest Academy has trained over twenty-five thousand grassroots activists from hundreds of organizations and coalitions. Midwest Academy teaches an organizing philosophy, methods, and skills that enable ordinary people to actively participate in the democratic process.

      Other training opportunities at the Choosing to Lead conference will include workshops in the following topic tracks:

      Leadership for our Coast | Our Wild Coast | Creating an Environmental Ethic for our Coast | The Coastal Way of Life | The Big Picture: Coastal Issues Roundtable

      Register by January 8th to guarantee your lunch and field trip selection; registration will continue through Saturday, January 13th, but space may be limited. It is filling up fast!

    6. Sean says:

      You can thank the people who voted for Trump for this madness. There’s talk about wanting to drug test everyone. https://www.thedailybeast.com/jeff-sessions-marijuana-adviser-wants-doctors-to-drug-test-everyone?ref=home

    7. vickia 52 says:

      I an so glad to see that Ohio is back on board with a new petition drive for 2018, hopefully this will be our year finally

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