It was a curious coincidence last month, that as PBS was broadcasting the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary, Prohibition, describing the Hoover Justice Department’s last-gasp crackdown on alcoholic beverages in the late 1920s, prosecutors in the Obama Justice Department were announcing a crackdown on medical marijuana in California, threatening to confiscate the property of people “involved in drug trafficking activity,” which is fedspeak for providing pot for sick people.
After nearly a decade under the Volstead Act, the utter futility of enforcing public abstinence from alcohol was evident to all but prohibition’s stakeholders – chiefly police, prosecutors and bootleggers. Despite the draconian penalties imposed by the 1926 Jones Act, which turned Volstead violations into felonies, booze remained generally available. Similarly, despite the draconian penalties of the Nixon-era Controlled Substances Act, and nearly a million arrests annually, marijuana has proven itself ineradicable, and, indeed, has become a part of our culture. (more…)
The holiday shopping season kicked off in earnest on Friday and retailers are heavily promoting online sales today, which they have dubbed “Cyber Monday.”
Online doing some holiday shopping and looking for the perfect gift for the marijuana enthusiast in your family? Why not sign them up for a NORML membership? We also have a wide assortment of great gift possibilities in the NORMLshop, including shirts, DVDs, books, and more.
You can also support NORML by simply shopping online at over 900 major retailers. All you have to do is visit www.igive.com/norml and begin shopping. A portion of all your purchases is donated to NORML and will help us continue our work to legalize marijuana in the new year and beyond. There is no extra charge and you can get all your shopping done online while helping a good cause. Click here for more details.
This weekend, NORML Board, Staff, and Activists from both coasts and everywhere in-between will converge on the waterfront between Centennial and Olympic Sculpture Parks in Seattle, Washington, for the twentieth anniversary Seattle Hempfest.
Visit our NORML / HIGH TIMES Booth! We are next to the rocky Puget Sound waters in the Stone Village south of the Share Parker Main Stage. You won’t have trouble finding us – this year we have a seven-foot green helium balloon with the NORML logo to guide you to our booth.
We will be bringing you exclusive VIP coverage of Hempfest live on The NORML Network. Next week we’ll bring you recorded video on NORMLtv and audio on our NORML SHOW LIVE podcast. Features will include Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Washington Representatives Roger Goodman and Mary Lou Dickerson, PBS travel guru Rick Steves, federal medical marijuana patient Elvy Musikka, legendary grower Ed Rosenthal, Weed Wars star and Harborside director Steve DeAngelo, among many of the interviews and speeches we will bring to you. We’ll also be backstage with the Kottonmouth Kings, The Accused, the Herbivores, and all the great bands than make Hempfest rock, with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews.
NORML Board, Staff, and Activists Schedule (UPDATED Thu) (click for complete schedule, subject to change, see Hempfest for final schedule). Our NORML Activists will be speaking on all four main stages to over 300,000 attendees over three days to educate the public and the politicians about the urgent need to legalize cannabis hemp in America. (Click “Full Story” below to get more details…)
There are hardly better ambassadors for cannabis consumers than the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and best-selling travel author and popular TV host Rick Steves–who also happens to be on NORML’s Advisory Board.
These great hemp backpacks are made available by Rick in support of NORML’s longstanding law reform efforts and you can get these only from NORML and only this week for half off the donation amount usually needed to score one of these cool, conversation-starting hemp backpacks.
This special offer ends Sunday night, June 26…don’t procrastinate, please make a much appreciated and well utilized donation to a long standing non-profit organization that is in the nation’s capital (along with over 160 state chapters and affiliates) serving both cannabis consumers and the victims of Cannabis Prohibition laws–and putting the ‘grass’ in grassroots everyday!
The Cause: Cannabis
In early November of 1970, a young public interest lawyer named R. Keith Stroup, along with a few of his friends who also believed that state and federal laws that criminalized the responsible use of marijuana by adults was counter-productive and unenforceable, met in a Georgetown row house in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. and decided to form an organization called ‘National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’, aka, NORML, the now brilliantly infamous acronym and service mark that is readily recognized as America’s ‘Pro-Marijuana Lobby Organization’.
However, after filing the necessary paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service and the Washington, D.C. government, it was not until this day forty years ago, March 2, 1971, that ‘NORML’ came to be a formally recognized as a non-profit public interest group with a clearly unique and revolutionary mission statement: To End Decades Of Marijuana Prohibition.
So, it is on this day that we bittersweetly recognize NORML’s improbable existence and remarkable longevity in opposition to all-powerful American governments (and their bureaucratic and law enforcement agents) and to the organization’s clear contributions to reforming the nation’s (and, very likely, much of the world’s) marijuana laws.
However, the organization is chagrined that it is still in existence despite the clear failure of Cannabis Prohibition laws and the popularity among the general public for ‘soft’ reforms (the public overwhelmingly supports medical access to cannabis and for ‘decriminalization’; a near majority of Americans in recent surveys support legalization for responsible adult use).
The principle goal of NORML, after 40 years of public advocacy for ending the criminalization of cannabis by the state and federal governments, is still to put the organization out of business.
So, again, it is with equal degree of frustrated embarrassment and great civic pride that we mark this day in both the organization’s impactful history as well as that of America’s five-decade old effort to end another failed government prohibition (placed into historical context and cost to the public, Alcohol Prohibition barely lasted a dozen years).
In the coming year, NORML and NORML Foundation will mark the organization’s 40th anniversary not so much in celebration, but in reflection of the amazing public advocacy efforts, setbacks and achievements that have led the nation to this day where 15 states have ‘medical’ cannabis laws, 13 states have ‘decriminalized’ possession, and, by the end of 2012, likely one or more states will either pass cannabis legalization legislation or state voters will approve legalization initiatives.
NORML interns have been scanning hundreds of photos, documents, interviews and news articles from the organization’s huge archives for the purposes of memorializing and informing America’s experience with Cannabis Prohibition and the organized activities to reform the laws.
Change Is In The Air…You Can Smell It
Cannabis law reformers are on the precipice of major social changes in favor of the liberalization of cannabis laws—and the state and federal governments, law enforcement and competitors to legal cannabis all recognize this to be true.
None of this would have been possible for NORML over these many years without the dedicated grassroots support provided by stakeholders.
Recognizing that most of the hardest work that entailed the greatest amounts of personal self-sacrifice are thankfully behind us, we also have to recognize there is still much work left to do before adults can lawfully use cannabis products in a manner and form similar to the way adults can consume alcohol products.
On this day, NORML’s official birthday, I’m asking NORML supporters and cannabis consumers far and wide to join me in celebrating a most remarkable public interest group that exists to serve and protect cannabis consumers, lobby and litigate for reforms, and educates the public, media and elected officials about cannabis (and why Cannabis Prohibition laws must end now).
What has been ever fascinating to me in the nearly 20 years I’ve worked for the organization is how much positive change NORML achieves on a shoestring budget of well under one million dollars annually. None of this would have been possible without a large network of volunteers, lawyers and activists willing to both care and share.
There are some public interest organizations that reportedly scare the clothes off of elected policymakers, groups like the National Rifle Association, NAACP, AIPAC, ACLU, Operation Rescue, etc…However, according to popular Internet tracking sites (i.e., Alexa), none of these organizations have the web traffic that NORML has.
Money Is the Mother’s Milk Of Politics
What these groups have that NORML does not possess is committed funding sources and/or endowments.
That’s OK; on one hand being cash-starved keeps a public interest group like NORML innovative, humble and committed to representing stakeholders’ interests. However, on the other hand, despite the general public’s increasing support for reforming cannabis laws and recognizing prohibition’s failure, NORML’s ability to politically persuade the body politic is greatly hampered by finances that belie the genuine and festering public support in favor of NORML’s reform agenda.
Make a $40 Donation in Support of NORML
Please join my family and I in making a $1 donation to NORML (or the NORML Foundation if you’d like the tax deduction) for every year NORML has been working in the public eye in support of cannabis consumers and to reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws.
You can make a quick-n-easy online donation here.
On behalf of the membership, NORML’s chapter network (over 150 chapters), NORML Legal Committee of Lawyers (over 600 lawyers nationwide), the board of directors and national staff…thanks very much for making NORML the longstanding and responsible voice for cannabis consumers for forty years!