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Community Organizing

  • by Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML October 15, 2018

    One Year Anniversary

    October 2nd, 2018 marked the one year anniversary of the unanimous passage of Atlanta City Ordinance 17-O-1152, which reduced the penalty for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana within the city limits of Atlanta to $75.00 and no jail time.  While this ordinance isn’t a true “decrim” bill, because those arrested are still being fingerprinted, it was a great step toward sensible marijuana legislation here in Georgia.

    Curiosity

    I wanted to know just what effect 17-O-1152 had on “simple possession” arrests in Atlanta.  After all, the ordinance didn’t make it “legal”, it just reduced the penalties.  It didn’t really even “decrim”.  APD officers are still free to arrest offenders and take them to jail.  The question burned in my mind; “Did they, or did they use 17-O-1152 as a justification to act on a moral conviction?“.  I knew where to find at least a clue to the answer.

    ACDC — No, Not the Band

    I have to hand it to the folks in the Records Department of the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC).  I’ve asked them for data several times and they are always quick to respond.  It seems I even have a nickname with them.  More on that later …. maybe.

    So last week I asked them to provide me with the following data, which they promptly did.  I’ve added their response in blue:

    a) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  2136

    b) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2016, and Oct 2, 2017, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  952

    c) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is an included charge:  683

    d) The number of bookings between Oct 3, 2017, and Oct 2, 2018, where possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is the ONLY charge:  252

    The Inference

    To sum it up, personal-use possession arrests fell from 3088 to 935 the first year after implementation of this ordinance.  When you do the math, that’s a 69.8% reduction.  So consider these factors:

    • 17-O-1152 was not directed to the Atlanta Police Department, rather to the Municipal Court.
    • APD officers can still arrest
    • Folks in the Metro live it like it’s legal anyway

    I searched through APD’s Standard Operating Procedures and didn’t find a mention of reducing the emphasis on simple possession arrests, so that doesn’t seem to be a factor.  Chief Shields may have issued an internal memo to that effect, but I’ve found no evidence of it, and I’m fairly certain that would have made its way into print somewhere.  She did say publicly during the hearings associated with 17-O-1152 that possession of small amounts was not high on the APD’s priority list, and that certainly has to be taken into consideration.

    So what can we deduce from this information?  I think it’s simply this; Nearly 70% of cops in Atlanta really don’t have a problem with NOT arresting marijuana users and now that they have an opportunity to exercise their moral discretion, they are doing so.  I think that’s significant.

    Too Optimistic?

    I’m optimistic by nature.  I’m always looking to what’s around the corner, to what the positive, rather than the negative outcome of a situation can be.  When this ordinance was passed many of you in the marijuana movement in Georgia cast aspersions on it.  You felt like it was a hollow gesture, with no substance, and that it wouldn’t make a difference.  Well, apparently you were wrong.  ‘Nuff said.

    So now I’m excited to see how this pans out in Savannah, South Fulton, Fulton County, Forest Park, and Kingsland as they reach the anniversary dates of their “decrim” ordinances.  We already know that Clarkston’s City Council and Mayor Ted Terry were the first to enact such an ordinance, and their program is working well.

    I’m also interested, as we all should be, in whether or not our State Legislators are listening …. or rather, who they are listening to.  This is The Georgia Sheriffs’ Association’s (GSA) position on marijuana  posted boldly on the front page of their website:

    “The position of the GSA concerning marijuana and medical cannabis is as follows:

    • OPPOSE the legalization of marijuana for all social, recreational or industrial purposes.
    • OPPOSE the cultivation of marijuana for all purposes.
    • SUPPORT the use of chemicals derived from cannabis for medical use for certain well defined serious health conditions.
    • OPPOSE the medical delivery or application of chemicals derived from cannabis plants through smoking.
    • OPPOSE legislative proposals where appropriate controls and security measures do not exist and where strict civil and criminal penalties are absent.

    The Executive Vice President of the GSA is a paid lobbyist.  Sheriffs and other law enforcement execs are always telling us, “We don’t make the laws, we just enforce them” and “If you don’t want us enforcing the law, get it changed.”  How are we supposed to do that when phrases like “Danger, danger” and “slippery slope” and “gateway drug” are constantly being whispered in our law-makers’ ears by a paid lobbyist?  Get out of our way and we WILL change the law.  We’re going to change it anyway.  It’s now a matter of when not if.  Your Rank and File support it.  I know.  I talk to them.

    I also find it telling that the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police doesn’t even mention it on their website.

    Tom McCain is the Executive Director of Peachtree NORML, fighting for the rights of Georgian cannabis consumers. You can visit their website at www.peachtreenorml.org, follow their work on Facebook and Twitter, and please make a contribution to support their work by clicking here. 

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director
    New York,  A coalition of over 20 organizations working at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity, and reparative justice, will join local and community groups across the country for the inaugural National Expungement Week (N.E.W.) October 20-27, 2018. Conceived to aid those disenfranchised by the war on drugs, N.E.W. will offer free clinics to help to remove, seal, or reclassify eligible convictions from criminal records.

    N.E.W. events will be held in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Haven, Philadelphia, Prince George’s County, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Organizers will also provide attendees with a varied (depending upon location) range of supportive services including employment resources, voter engagement, health screenings, and more. The N.E.W. website also provides a link to an online toolkit so that interested parties can host their own record change events.

    In recent months, District Attorneys in a number of cities – such as New YorkSan FranciscoSan Diego, and Seattle  have moved to automate the process of expunging past marijuana convictions.

    For more information, visit https://www.offtherecord.us/ 
  • by Nevada NORML October 10, 2018

    With the help of the newly established “Cannabition Cannabis Museum,” Nevada’s state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, along with its local affiliate Las Vegas NORML, welcomed the National NORML Board of Directors to Las Vegas with a “Smoke the Vote” voter rally.

    Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene, Jj Walker, NORML Founder Keith Stroup, Aaron Esparza, NORML Board member Beverley Moran, David Hofstein, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri, and Sen. Tick Segerblom in front of Hunter’s Shark at the Cannabition Cannabis Museum in Las Vegas

    On Friday, members of National NORML, as well as state chapter leaders from around the nation, spent time activating voters from Nevada’s Cannabis community. The Executive Director of Nevada NORML, Madisen Saglibene, led a press conference announcing the launch of NORML’s “Smoke the Vote” tool; a comprehensive guide highlighting the voting records of state and federal politicians on issues pertaining to marijuana law reform.

    Nevada NORML worked diligently over the past several months to solicit candidates’ responses to NORML’s survey about marijuana consumer protections. While only 60 of the 150 total state-wide candidates responded, it became evident this midterm cycle that cannabis reform is more nonpartisan than ever before. Candidates from around the state took the time to record their positions about trending issues like housing and employment discrimination, home grow, and criminal justice reform.

    Friday’s press conference brought out several candidates from the Libertarian Party, as well as the only non-partisan Assembly candidate running in the state of Nevada, Daniel Hofstein. Alongside these individuals was State Senator, and Nevada Cannabis Champion, Tick Segerblom. Candidates discussed the importance of exercising citizens’ rights to vote, and how not voting has consequences — especially when it comes to marijuana policy. Nevada has reached a time in which constituents have a choice to endorse candidates who support changes to both medical and recreational programs. It was exciting for Nevada NORML during their first election season to be able to find allies that can remain resources if elected into office.

    Amongst members of the Las Vegas Community were NORML Pioneers of Legalization that provided support to the Nevada NORML chapter during their first election cycle. NORML founder Keith Stroup was also in Vegas to inspire the community, and his positions made an impact. Both the Nevada and Las Vegas chapters were honored to be able to host a mixer following the voter rally, continuing the conversation between their new chapter leaders and National leaders like Dale Gehringer and Dan Viets, that have been with NORML for decades – making them credible mentors and motivators. Vanderbilt University Professor of Law and NORML Director, Beverly Moran, spoke during the Nevada event to remind attendees about the vitality of voting in midterm elections. Executive Director of National NORML, Erik Altieri, acknowledged the Clark County Commission candidate, Tick Segerblom, as an instrumental ally for the legalization movement over the decades.

    Closing out the event with an emphasis on voter registration and restoration of voting privileges, NORML volunteers alerted attendees about the Nevada voter registration deadline of October 18th.

    If you are already involved with a local NORML chapter, or wish to be, please be aware that an incredible system of support exist for you.

    NORML encourages voters to visit vote.norml.org to learn more about your 2018 marijuana friendly candidates.

  • by Matthew Maulding, Executive Director, NORML of Catawba Valley October 5, 2018

    In North Carolina there is only one way we will be able to achieve any level of cannabis reform at the state level, that way is through our legislators in Raleigh.

    Currently, the amount of legislators in office that are supportive of cannabis reform is pretty much nil. Zero. Nada. There are few representatives that are supportive currently but they can’t do anything by themselves. They need other supporters in Raleigh with them.

    Click Here to View NORML’s  North Carolina Voter Guide

    How do we achieve this goal of cannabis reform that we all supposedly hold so dear then if there isn’t anyone willing to change the laws from the inside for us? The answer is, and you’re gonna hate it, vote. We MUST vote, one district at a time, to increase the amount of legislators in Raleigh that support cannabis reform from just a handful of legislators to an abundance of legislators.

    This isn’t going to happen “overnight”, or in one election cycle. This is going to take years to evolve but we must start now. There is nothing we can do about the past and how organizations like ours have tried to get the reform we want, but we can make an assertive effort to change the future.

    I use this analogy all the time when I refer to the reform efforts here in North Carolina; this movement is like a car that’s ran out of gas. In order for us to get the car running and to get where we want, we have to push the car to the gas station. It takes a lot of effort to initially get the car moving, but once it gets rolling it goes faster and gets easier to push. Up till now, I think many separate organizations and activists looked at the car in the past and couldn’t figure out how to get it to the gas station. However, now I feel we have a path towards victory.While its not an easy path, there is only one way we can do it.

    Voting the right candidates in and increasing the number of allies in the Legislative Building in Raleigh starts with this year and starts getting the car rolling. Lobbying efforts in-between elections help keep the car rolling. Then, every election year we can increase our allies through the elections which helps the car pick up speed and helps us “get gas”. Getting favorable numbers in Raleigh will be like finally getting gas in the car in which we can start the car, and drive the rest of the way to the finish line.

    Click Here to View NORML’s North Carolina Voter Guide

    The bottom line is, cannabis reform in North Carolina starts with this election, continues through lobbying efforts in “off-election years”, and then builds speed through every election from here on out. Get out and vote for cannabis friendly candidates every single election and we will get the reform we all need, it’s that simple. It’s a long process but it’s simple.

    For more info about cannabis law reform efforts in North Carolina, please visit http://ncnorml.org/ or email normlofcatawbavalley@gmail.com. You can also follow North Carolina NORML on FaceBook and Twitter!

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director September 30, 2018

    Every day NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    NORML Chapters Focus on Voter Registration and Education for Midterm Elections

    “To help educate our members and supporters about candidates who are supportive of marijuana law reform efforts, NORML is working with “Smoke the Vote” to create state-level and congressional scorecards, similar to our Governor Scorecard, that outlines each candidate’s marijuana policy positions. Furthermore, several NORML chapters, like Arizona NORML and Texas NORML, have created their own regional voter guides for the 2018 midterm elections!”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Arizona NORML Rate Lawmakers Before Midterm Elections

    “Earlier in August, Mikel Weisser, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws of Arizona, published a lengthy report card on the many candidates vying for a public office in 2018. Now that the votes are being counted and most of the races have clear winners, Weisser said he likes what he sees.”

    Read more from the Phoenix New Times!

    Follow Arizona NORML on Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of El Paso NORML Focus on Education in Advance of Midterm Elections

    “Right now, we’re working with local politicians and our state representatives, and also our state senator José Rodríguez, to advance during our legislative sessions,” DeMorris said. “Other than working with our representatives we’re out, educating the public. We have monthly meetings trying to reach out to the public, trying to educate them about policy reform here in Texas, how it works and stuff like that.”

    Read more from The Prospector!

    Follow El Paso NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Lancaster NORML Advocate for Marijuana Decriminalization Ordinance

    “Rubi Nicholas, executive director of Lancaster chapter of the pro-legalization group NORML, said City Council did the right thing in passing the ordinance, though she said the “ultimate” right thing would be legalization.”

    Read more from Lancaster Online!

    Follow Lancaster NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!  

    Members of Mass/Cann NORML Host Committee Meeting to Discuss Medical Marijuana

    “The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition/National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Mass Cann/NORML) held a committee meeting on the fifteenth floor in the One Beacon Street building. Open to the public, the meeting had around 25 people in attendance.”

    Read more from UMass Media!

    Follow Mass/Cann NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!  

    NORML Chapters in Pennsylvania Rally in Support of Marijuana Law Reforms

    “Marijuana activists in Pennsylvania are poised to introduce an aggressive agenda for reform in 2019 when they fill the Capitol Rotunda at 10am on Monday, September 24,” said Jeff Riedy, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley NORML. “With cannabis arrest counts rising across the state and neighboring states threatening legalization, the time is right for this discussion in Pennsylvania.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Southeastern Wisconsin NORML Releases Candidate Questionnaire  

    “The Southeastern Wisconsin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, released results this week of a legislative candidate questionnaire which shows more than 50 candidates for the Legislature support either medical or recreational marijuana legalization or both.”

    Read more from Urban Milwaukee!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Members of Virginia NORML Team up with Local Brewery for Legalize Virginia Festival

    “The polls overwhelmingly indicate that the citizens of Virginia are ready for faster progress,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “We are grateful to the O’Connor family for providing this megaphone for reform. In states across the nation, we are seeing business owners like them step up and lend their voices to help lead the way.”

    Read more from AltDaily!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML

    “Access for medical patients will become more of a problem because medical patients need a higher quality.”

    Read more from Michigan Public Radio!

    Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Bailey Hirschburg, Lobbyist, Washington NORML

    “With homegrow, we were regularly told, “Why should we vote for it if the other chamber won’t take action?” Hence two bills both trying to move simultaneously.”

    Read more from Weed News!

    Follow Washington NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Bill Downing, Board Member, Mass/Cann NORML

    “Some of the wealthiest people in the entire world live on Beacon Hill and they treat the Boston Common as though it were their backyard,” Downing said. “The people who decided to buy or rent near the Common should know that the Common is going to have events on it. For them to complain is just ridiculous.”

    Read more from the Boston Herald!

    Follow Mass/Cann NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

    “Illegal water diversions to marijuana gardens have been an issue in the past,” Gieringer said. “It will be an interesting experiment to see what actually happens. I have friends in the growing community who said there will be a huge outdoor marijuana drought this year, but that was when the state was bleached white before the last round of rain.”

    Read more from Fort Bragg Advocate-News!

    Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Doug Greene, Legislative Director, Empire State NORML

    “Doug Greene, legislative director of the Empire State National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), suggested sealing records of those who have been convicted.”

    Read more from AMNewYork!

    Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Eric Marsch, Executive Director, Southeastern Wisconsin NORML

    “Eric Marsch, executive director of Southeastern Wisconsin NORML, said the expected public approval of the November referendums should convince legislators there is no need to wait on approving the legalization of marijuana, along with taxing its sales and regulating its production and distribution.”

    Read more from the Journal Sentinel!

    Follow Southeastern Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Frank Latta, Executive Director, Wyoming NORML

    “Latta served several years on the Gillette council and was mayor of Gillette for eight years. He served four years in the Wyoming legislature. Now, he’s director of the Wyoming chapter of NORML. He said he resents the implication that a support for a change in law makes you a pothead. For him, it’s about what’s the best policy for the citizens of Wyoming.”

    Read more from County 17!

    Follow Wyoming NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “It is in the best interests of patients, of consumers, for there to be transparency throughout this process,” Pedini said. “Patients deserve to know who is making their medicine, if that company has been operational in other states, if they have been compliant, if they have had to stop production or have been cited for other issues.”

    Read more from the Richmond Times-Dispatch!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!   

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “The marijuana midterms, so they’re called, are coming up this November, and it’s time for voters to be heard and to put folks in office who want to take action once they’re there,”

    Read more from Virginia Public Radio!

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!  

    Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

    “I understand the concerns about dangerous occupations, but short of that, I think employers should take a more tolerant view,” he said. “It’s shortsighted to eliminate those people because you’re eliminating a lot of creative, motivated people from your candidate pool.”

    Read more from the Detroit Free Press!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Michael Chazukow, Board Member, New Jersey NORML

    “Michael Chazukow, a member of the New Jersey division of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said bans on cultivation centers and retail businesses will not keep marijuana out of communities but will prohibit the traffic, jobs and revenue they generate.”

    Read more from NorthJersey.com!

    Follow New Jersey NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director, Pittsburgh NORML

    “Right here in the City of Pittsburgh, people of color are five times as likely to be charged with a minor possession offense than their white counterparts despite similar rates of usage. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

    Read more from CBS Pittsburgh!

    Follow Pittsburgh NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Patrick Nightengale, Executive Director, Pittsburgh NORML

    “A new industry here in PA that could easily generate recurring revenue of $600 million annually without having to add one single penny of new tax revenue.”

    Watch the video from WPXI.com!

    Follow Pittsburgh NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML

    “I’m glad to see the Kingsland City Council unanimously approve this ordinance. They join Clarkston, Atlanta, Savannah, Forest Park, South Fulton and Fulton County in enacting sensible marijuana ordinances here in Georgia,”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow Peachtree NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

     

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