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ACTIVISM

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator May 18, 2015

    Summary:

    2015 NORML Legislative Fly-InFor those not able to attend NORML’s Legislative Fly-in, I have put together a list of marijuana-related bills currently pending in Congress as well as the names and Twitter accounts associated with members of specific committees that we plan to target during our social media campaign. By using social media, we will be able to add another layer to our lobbying efforts and will also provide each and every one of our members a chance to have their voice heard on these issues. I encourage all of you to start promoting our Twitter campaign to your networks as soon as possible.

    Objective:

    Apply pressure on members of the House Subcommittee on Health, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations by engaging them through a coordinated social media campaign using specific messaging and hash tags to track our activity. Using the #NORML hash tag gives us the power to bring attention to and mobilize a larger and more diverse coalition of social media activists to support and/or join our efforts. Also, it’s important that we stay on message so please avoid altering the language provided. By maintaining a consistent message, we will be able to present a coordinated and disciplined effort.

    Directions:

    Simply cut and paste the Twitter handle and language provided below into your Twitter account and hit send. Please make sure that you use the directory so that you contact each representative directly. I’ve provided an example of what each tweet should look like for each bill. I recommend coordinating specific times with your organization and its membership to maximize our efforts.

    Language:

    H.R. 1013: “[Insert Twitter  Handle] I urge you to support House Resolution 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act. It’s time for a new approach! #NORML

    S.683: “[Insert Twitter  Handle] I urge you to support the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act. America is ready! #NORML

    H.R. 667: “[Insert Twitter  Handle] I urge you to support House Resolution 667, the Veterans Equal Access Act. America’s veterans deserve better! #NORML

     

    1. H.R. 1013: Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act                                       

    Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations

    Members & Twitter Accounts:

    Example:

    Screenshot_2015-05-15-18-21-23

     

    2. S. 683 – Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act

    Committee on the Judiciary

    Members & Twitter Accounts:

    Example:

     Screenshot_2015-05-15-20-40-06

     

    3. H.R. 667: Veterans Equal Access Act                                                                          

    Subcommittee on Health

    Members & Twitter Accounts:

    Example:

    Screenshot_2015-05-15-20-40-32

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

    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/

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 15, 2015

    wammThere are thousands of licensed cannabis-related businesses these days in states like Colorado, Washington and California; and soon enough too in Alaska and Oregon. Medical cannabis-related businesses also dot the national landscape as well.

    When Californians were the first in 1996 to cast votes in favor of allowing medical access to cannabis, with a near singular message of ‘compassion’ for patients that need therapeutic access to the plant. Advocates for the passage of Prop. 215 (including NORML) didn’t envisage that the initiative did more than two primary things:

    -exempt from criminal arrest and prosecution medical patients who possess physician’s recommendation to use cannabis as a therapeutic

    -allow for ‘compassionate’ access through collectives that, ideally, were to be not for profit

    Well…culture, custom, commerce and the free market–not too surprisingly–largely came to trump compassion as a primary impetus for a medical cannabis collective’s being. The hundreds of medical cannabis businesses that currently exist in California labor under laws originally meant for lending legal protections for ‘self-preservation’ and ‘collectivism’ regarding how medical cannabis was to be a distributed to the sick, dying and sense-threatened.

    However, one genuine cannabis patient collective has managed to survive for 20 years, the Santa Cruz-based WAMM.

    Headed by NORML Advisory board member and MS patient Valerie Corral, WAMM has been a remarkable leader in legal challenges to federal encroachment, medical and botanical research. WAMM provides a comfortable, nurturing and inviting environment–physically and emotionally–to women and men who need therapeutic access to cannabis, in safe environs and who want to be part of a community that cultivates and shares the cannabis grown amongst the collective’s members.

    Please see links to related articles about the current challenges WAMM faces at High Times and Good Times.

    If possible, please make a timely donation to Save WAMM!

     

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director May 13, 2015

    2015 NORML Legislative Fly-In

    The NORML Legislative Fly-In in Washington, DC is one week away. Please join NORML in this call to action.*

    If you’ve not pre-registered for the May 20th cannabis lobbying training and messaging day, please do ASAP by going here. The conference schedule and speaker list are online.

    NORML activist and leadership awards, a silent auction and social on Thursday night are all on tap (so to speak…).

    Marijuana is becoming legal in our lifetimes. Please join us at the nation’s capitol and help hasten these long-needed public policy reforms by lobbying your elected policy makers.

    *There are over 40 million cannabis consumers in the United States (according to government data) and NORML knows that 99.99999% of these direct stakeholders are not going to come to Washington to lobby on cannabis law reforms next week, but, that does not mean they can’t be active on May 21st–NORML Lobby Day–contacting their federal policymakers (one congressperson and two senators)

    If you and your cannabis tolerant friends and family can’t join us in Washington, D.C. next week, please consider, for the day, being a ‘virtual lobbyist’ for cannabis law reform. To do so, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center

    Thanks in advance and hope to see you next week in Washington (where the possession and use of cannabis by adults over 21 years of age is legal).

    Allen St. Pierre
    Executive Director
    NORML / NORML Foundation

    p.s. The NORML social has separate ticket necessary for attendance @ $25/per person.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 7, 2015

    The 2015 state legislative session has been the busiest on record.

    State lawmakers have debated nearly 100 different marijuana law reform bills this session and some 60 bills remain pending.

    NORML’s Take Action Center here provides you with the ability to track pending legislation in your state and to contact your elected officials and urge them to support marijuana law reform.

    So far this legislative session, some 65,000 letters have been sent by NORML members to their elected officials in support of pending legislation. These efforts are paying dividends.

    Below are some examples of pending legislation that need your support:

    Delaware: Legislation to decriminalize minor marijuana offenses has passed committee and awaits a House floor vote. Take action here.

    Hawaii: House and Senate lawmakers have approved legislation permitting medical cannabis production facilities and dispensaries. The measure now awaits the Governor’s signature. Take action here.

    Illinois: Marijuana decriminalization legislation passed the House and now awaits action on the Senate floor. Take action here.

    Minnesota: Legislation to legalize hemp farming has passed the House and now awaits action from the Senate. Take action here.

    Missouri: Legislation establishing a licensed hemp cultivation program has been passed by the House and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor. Take action here.

    New Hampshire: House lawmakers voted 3 to 1 to decriminalize marijuana possession offenses. The bill now awaits Senate action. Take action here.

    Texas: Legislation to remove marijuana-related offenses from the Texas criminal code has passed out of committee and now awaits action from the House of Representatives. Take action here. Separate legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses has also passed out of committee and awaits further House action. Take action here.

    Additional legislation seeking to legalize the adult use and retail sale of cannabis remains pending in over a dozen states, while decriminalization and medical marijuana measures are pending in nearly 20 others. For a full listing of pending legislation and approved legislation, visit NORML’s Take Action Center here.

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