NORML members, supporters, and chapter leaders gathered in our nation’s capital this week, for NORML’s 2016 Conference and Lobby Day. The events were filled with education, activism, socializing, and plenty of marijuana smoking. For those who weren’t able to attend, keep reading below to find out what you missed and how you can get involved in next year’s events.
On Monday we held our educational conference at George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs. On the top floor, surrounded with ceiling to floor windows, the meeting room provided attendees a view of some of the district’s most iconic sights while hearing from some of the reform movement’s brightest minds.
Highlights on Day 1 included a presentation by Deputy Director Paul Armentano entitled, “We Don’t Know Enough About Cannabis? Think Again,” where he acknowledged that there are now more scientific studies and papers available specific to cannabis than most other conventional therapeutics.
John Hudak, deputy director of the Center for Effective Public Management at The Brookings Institute discussed the successes we have seen from Colorado and the other pioneering states that have regulated marijuana for adult use.
Attendees also heard from Queens College professor Harry Levine and investigator Loren Siegel, who highlighted the continuing racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement — a disparity that continues to exist even in jurisdictions that have regulated cannabis-related activities. Their presentations were a stark reminder that even as we celebrate or successes, there is still plenty of work left to do.
A summary of many of the day’s presentations is online here.
Finally, in one of the more notable events of the day Eleanora Kennedy and Anna Kennedy Safir awarded longtime NORML Legal Committee member Gerald H. Goldstein with the first annual Michael John Kennedy Social Justice Award.
Events continued Monday night at the historic O St. Mansion where attendees gathered for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. NORML hosted our 2016 award ceremony, highlighting various attendees for their extraordinary activism, and political and cultural leadership in the field of marijuana and marijuana policy reform. Award recipients included:
- Outstanding Chapter Award to Norm Kent on behalf of Florida NORML
- Student Activist Award to Chris Thompson, Purdue NORML
- Lester Grinspoon Award to Harry Levine and Loren Siegel
- Hunter S. Thompson Award to Bruce Barcott, Leafly
- Pauline Sabin Award to Pam Novy, Virginia NORML
- Peter McWilliams Award to Ken Wolski, Coalition for Medical Marijuana – NJ
- Outstanding Cannabist Activist Award to Kevin Oliver, Washington NORML
On Tuesday attendees convened on Capitol Hill for a full day of lobbying. In the morning, attendees heard words of encouragement from five distinguished members of Congress: Reps. Sam Farr, Earl Blumenauer, Jared Polis, Suzan DelBene, and Dana Rohrabacher. Congressman Farr (D-CA), who is the co-sponsor of legislation protecting statewide medical marijuana programs from federal interference, will be retiring this year so it was a privilege for our lobby group to hear from him.
NORML awarded Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR) our 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his continued leadership and focus on marijuana law reform throughout his career. Keith Stroup, NORML’s founder and legal counsel, spoke of the Congressman’s first days as a legislator in the Oregon State House of Representatives where he sponsored the state’s 1973 decriminalization law. Ever since then Congressman Blumenauer has continued to support our issue. Just last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment sponsored by the Congressman providing V.A. physicians the ability to discuss and recommend medical marijuana to U.S. veterans.
Congressman Polis (D-CO) and Congresswoman DelBene (D-WA) encouraged attendees to continue their advocacy work. Congressman Polis is chief sponsor of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, legislation to to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. Congresswoman DelBene is chief sponsor of the SMART Enforcement Act, legislation to make the US federal Controlled Substances Act inapplicable with respect to states that have legalized and regulated marijuana in a manner that addresses key federal priorities.
Wrapping up the morning reception, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) made news when he acknowledged successfully using a topical marijuana treatment for his shoulder arthritis. His admission marked quite possibly the first time ever a sitting member of Congress has admitted using marijuana while serving in office! Congressman Rohrabacher is one of our most valuable leaders at the federal level and NORML wishes to thank him for not only addressing our group but for sharing with us his candid and personal testimony. You can listen to the archived audio from NORML’s Capitol Hill reception here.
Throughout the three day event, attendees were able to network with fellow activists, learn from leaders in the reform movement, and relax with some of best locally grown marijuana in Washington D.C. NORML would like to thank those of you who attended and contributed to this successful event and we look forward to seeing you all again next year.
If you are planning on attending this year’s Congressional Lobby Day in Washington D.C. this May 23rd and 24th and you like saving money, please take advantage of the early bird discount for pre-registering that is now available!
The schedule will be released soon but rest easy it will be a full two day itinerary focused around marijuana consumerism, the 114th Congress, post prohibition concerns, marijuana in the media and more! We’ll hold our informational conference on Monday at the GW University Elliot School of International Affairs (1957 E Street NW) with moderated discussions between some of the most influential thought leaders in the movement and then on Tuesday we’ll #TakeAction and gather on Capitol Hill to lobby our elected officials for common sense marijuana law reforms.
We’ll also be hosting a NORML Social at O St. Mansion on Monday night for a special award ceremony to honor our most valuable marijuana activists! If you wish to join the party don’t forget to purchase a separate ticket at checkout.
Thanks again for your dedicated support and help in reforming our country’s misguided cannabis laws.
The NORML Nation Membership Drive went live this morning, and will run until August 12th!
Click HERE to go the the NORML Nation Membership Drive page, where you can join the NORML Nation and fight for legalization in 2016!
NORML has big things planned for the 2016 election season, and we need more grassroots volunteers to help us fight for cannabis legalization!
We’re working with multiple partners in the cannabis industry to build NORML’s ranks. The goal of this membership drive is to add 1,000 new members to NORML! We’re offering three ways to participate:
If you’re already NORML Chapter Leader or Member, you can earn money for your local NORML Chapter through the NORML Nation Chapter Contest! The top three chapters with the most referrals to the NORML Nation will earn $1,000, $500, and $250!
Thank you in advance for helping us make this a successful membership drive. You can help us reach our goal by encouraging others to become members of NORML and to donate to our work. You can also join the NORML Nation Membership Drive Facebook event, and invite your friends!
Nearly fifteen years after the release of “Because I Got High”- a song well known for poking fun at overzealous reefer madness rhetoric – Afroman is ready to jump headfirst back into the marijuana limelight. Only this time, as an advocate for legalization.
The grammy nominated artist recently teamed up with NORML and Weedmaps to launch a remake of his hit song, turning the hip hop classic into a positive legalization anthem for the 2014 elections. The remix is a new and entertaining way to drive the narrative surrounding the benefits of cannabis law reform, as well as the medical benefits of the plant itself. With election day right around the corner, his latest project is geared towards keeping up the momentum for all the marijuana law reform efforts taking place across the country, and especially upcoming ballot initiatives.
On November 4th, two states and the District of Columbia will be voting to legalize marijuana, and Florida will be voting on a medical marijuana amendment. The timing couldn’t have been better to take, and remake the canna-cult classic. The 2014 version of “Because I Got High” not only challenges old stereotypes, it also seeks to build support and enthusiasm for the three measures proposing to create a regulated pot market for adults, age 21 and over.
Through digital engagement, this song pushes an important political message to a younger, social media savvy voting block, energizing the demographic known to be the among the biggest supporters of ending marijuana prohibition. From glaucoma to funding school construction, the song highlights many of the social, medical and economic benefits of legalization in a fun and informative way.
“NORML is thrilled to have brought Weedmaps and Afroman together to create this unique cultural collaboration merging art, entertainment, and activism into a single campaign that highlights many of the positive benefits of cannabis, and raises awareness for for the legalization initiatives coming up in the 2014 November elections,” said NORML Director of Strategic Partnerships Sabrina Fendrick.
Check out the video and share with all your like-minded friends. Together, we can #SmokeTheVote!
Willie Nelson is a proud marijuana smoker who stopped using alcohol and tobacco decades ago. Willie, 81, credits his longevity to that decision.
Willie was purposely out of the “marijuana closet” before that became fashionable, or even politically correct. His openness came across as charmingly naive, as if he did not know cannabis was illegal, and could not figure out why others were sometimes upset.
Willie was — and still is — making a political statement that there is nothing wrong with smoking marijuana.
Two issues have always been the focus of Willie’s political attention: helping family farmers remain on the land and legalizing marijuana.
Willie and I have frequently talked over the years about the natural crossover between those two issues. If marijuana were legal for American farmers to cultivate and sell, tens of thousands of family farmers could grow marijuana and financially thrive and remain on the land, continuing the great rural tradition dating back to the founding of our country.