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Community organizing

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator July 27, 2017

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    With the recent passage of a marijuana decriminalization ordinance, the City of York joins Philadelphia, State College, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg in no longer criminalizing the simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. Following several meetings to discuss the proposal, members of city council heard from Chris Goldstein, former executive director of Philadelphia NORML and Les Stark, executive director of the Keystone Cannabis Coalition. Both spoke in support of the proposal and even provided encouraging data showing a decline in marijuana arrests in other municipalities that adopted similar measures.

    “Towns across Pennsylvania are moving away from handcuffs and towards issuing fines instead, that’s good news in a state where we have more than 18,000 consumers arrested every year,” said Chris Goldstein.

    Similar to other decriminalization measures that have been adopted by municipalities in the Commonwealth, the ordinance approved by the York City Council replaces criminal prosecution and potential jail time with a simple fine or community service for those possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana. The ordinance also decriminalized the public consumption of marijuana.

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    While local governments across Pennsylvania continue to adopt measures to reduce the penalty for personal possession of marijuana from jail time to a simple fine, state lawmakers have been more apprehensive on the issue. But advocates are hopeful things will change as the conversation advances on the local level. “This really puts the pressure on legislators in Harrisburg to vote on statewide bills and start having the bigger conversation about full legalization,” added Goldstein.

    Read more here: http://www.ydr.com/story/news/2017/07/19/york-city-council-passes-bill-decriminalize-possession-small-amounts-marijuana/480013001/

    For future updates on marijuana law reform efforts in Pennsylvania, follow Philly NORML by visiting their website and Facebook page!

  • by Tom McCain, Executive Director, Peachtree NORML May 11, 2017

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    **Update: Peachtree NORML has just informed us that the vote has been postponed. We will keep you posted as developments unfold. 

    On Monday, May 15, 2017, the City Council of Atlanta, Georgia will vote on an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana within Atlanta’s City Limits. Under Georgia law, the possession of one ounce or less is an arrestable offense that could result in up to a $1000 fine and 12 months in jail. This ordinance would allow for the issuance of a citation which carries a $75.00 fine. The ordinance would only apply to the Atlanta Police Department. Other agencies operating within the City, such as the State Patrol and Fulton County Sheriff, would still be able to arrest for the offense.

    While it may not seem like much protection, the passage of this ordinance would be a giant step in Georgia. The small town of Clarkston passed a similar ordinance in July 2016. While that stirred up some news, the Capital of Georgia passing it would have a major ripple effect. One mayoral candidate, Vincent Fort, who is a current member of Georgia’s Senate, has made decriminalization the major plank in his campaign platform. It is a hot topic in Georgia.

    Peachtree NORML, in association with Georgia C.A.R.E. Project, has begun a City-by- City campaign which is beginning to have some success. By providing fact-based data to municipal governments wishing to consider such measures, we hope to begin reducing the harm caused by an arrest for small amounts of marijuana in Georgia.

    If approved by Council, Atlanta will join a growing list of cities around the country that have adopted a more pragmatic approach for dealing with marijuana-related offenses on the local level. Kansas City, Houston, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa, Orlando, Milwaukee, Monona, Toledo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and several others have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

    Sharon Ravert, the Founder of Peachtree NORML is fond of saying, “When we are talking, we are winning.” Hopefully the City of Atlanta will prove her right next Monday.

    Contact your council representatives today and urge them to vote “Yes” on a fiscally sensible proposal that will enable police, prosecutors, and the courts to reallocate their existing resources toward activities that will better serve the public.

    Click the link below to get started!

    TAKE ACTION: http://act.norml.org/p/dia/action4/common/public/?action_KEY=20611

    For more updates on local reform efforts, follow Peachtree NORML by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter! To make a donation to Peachtree NORML, please click here.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator March 28, 2017

    Following a national trend, members of the Monona City Council passed an ordinance that removed all municipal fines for the private possession and consumption of marijuana. Under the new ordinance, adults 21-years and older will no longer be subjected to a fine for possessing marijuana in public or in private spaces. Marijuana use in a private residence would also be exempt from a fine, but a $200 fine will still be given to those caught smoking in public.

    243428_10150183848971408_290803_oThis came as no surprise to Nate Petreman, executive director of Madison NORML. For almost two years, Mr. Petreman along with several members of Madison NORML worked to build a broad coalition of active community members who attended countless meetings and provided testimony in support of the measure.

    “Private use and possession and possession in public are no longer local offenses in Monona, WI. The new ordinance in Monona only prohibits public use. We were denied at the city last year, in part due to the Police Chief advocating on city time, and came just shy of the necessary signatures to trigger a vote on direct legislation in summer 2016,” said Petreman. “To succeed in our recent efforts, nearly 20 people attended each meeting along the way, many who were residents. These efforts resulted in the best known local ordinance statewide.”

    On the state level, lawmakers are currently considering legislation that would provide qualified patients with legal access to medical marijuana and establish a statewide medical marijuana program.

    Read more here about the statewide effort by clicking here. 

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator January 20, 2016

    US_capitolWith the Presidential election taking place this November, the majority of us are already being inundated with political propaganda from the political left and the right. In news cycle after news cycle, pundits can be heard offering their thoughts on the most recent poll numbers or political gaffes and rarely venture beyond hot button issues such as immigration or gun control. Some candidates have attempted to discuss drug policy reform, but most have avoided getting into any substantive discussions; ultimately offering a soundbite or two. In short, while most mainstream politicians acknowledge the problem, they by and large remain unwilling to address solutions. For those of us who have dedicated our lives to reforming America’s marijuana laws, this has been a bit frustrating to say the least.

    Even with all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming election, it seem almost impossible to find a politician who is willing to have a meaningful conversation about reforming America’s archaic marijuana laws. Although the issue consistently holds the support of more than half of our country, most candidates continue to treat it as an afterthought. As we close in on the 80th year of marijuana prohibition in America, we can no longer wait for Washington to take action. The days of playing political hot potato with an issue that the majority of Americans support are over. Our time is now.

    Change begins on the local level so be the catalyst for marijuana reform in your community. Start building relationships with city council members, county commissioners, judges and other elected officials. Explore opportunities to elevate the reform conversation through community forums and roundtable discussions. Even something as simple as writing a letter to your local paper will provide a chance to offer an enlightened perspective to a larger audience.

    As marijuana activists, we must work hard to make sure we’re putting our best foot forward as we focus our attention on winning the hearts and minds of politicians and community leaders alike. With efforts to reform local and state marijuana laws ramping up across the country, NORML Affiliates and Chapters are committed to providing our members and activists with all the tools they need to work towards meaningful reforms. From developing helpful talking points and strategic messaging to working with our local organizations to create legislative scorecards, NORML’s national office is prepared to dedicate the necessary time and resources needed to ensure that 2016 is a historic year for marijuana reform.

    If you haven’t already done so, please visit www.NORML.org to familiarize yourself with all of our available resources and other ways you can get involved. With over 160 Affiliates and Chapters worldwide, NORML will continue to be the leading voice for marijuana reform around the globe. For more information regarding NORML Affiliates and Chapters please email KevinM@NORML.org.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator November 2, 2015

    US_capitolEveryday NORML affiliates and chapters around the country pour countless hours into contacting representatives, hosting events, and talking to voters, all with the hope of passing meaningful marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level! In an effort to highlight their hard work and accomplishments, we will feature their stories on NORML.org and promote the content through our social media channels.

    State and Local

    Without a citizen initiative process, Virginia NORML is forced to rely on their state legislature to change state law; therefore, volunteers have been working hard over the past few months to unseat Virginia’s most anti-marijuana politician this November!
    Action Alert: Help Virginia NORML Oust A Marijuana Prohibitionist

    Days before the 2015 General Election, marijuana advocates In North Carolina held a rally to remind candidates that marijuana is, and will continue to be an important issue for voters. The group is also asking law enforcement agencies to make marijuana arrests their lowest priority.
    Charlotte NORML Supports Marijuana Reform

    Sharon Ravert, executive director of Peachtree NORML shared her thoughts about law enforcement getting involved in health-related matters such as medical marijuana.
    Commission Hears Sheriff’s Objections to Medical Cannabis in Georgia

    Wyoming NORML remains determined after Campbell County representatives announced their opposition of an effort to put medical marijuana on the ballot in 2016.
    County Commissioners Back Anti-Pot Campaign

    Close to 1,000 marijuana advocates took to the streets of Texas to educate community leaders about the need for a more comprehensive medical marijuana bill for suffering Texans!
    Hundreds Join ‘Marijuana March’ in Dallas

    Now that Mr. Mizanskey has been released from prison, he has found his calling as the Show Me State’s most vocal opponent against the federal government’s War on Drugs and the negative impact it has had on American families.
    Jeff Mizanskey Spent Over a Third of His Life in Prison

    Josh Chittum, executive director of Mid-Missouri NORML continues his work to change local laws regarding marijuana. He’s focused on changing the penalties associated with the cultivation of marijuana in Columbia, Missouri from 15 years in jail to a municipal fine.
    Local Groups Asking for Signatures on Marijuana Legislation

    Northwest Ohio NORML recently endorsed Mike Ferner for Toledo Mayor citing his support for a voter-approved ordinance that aimed to reduce criminal penalties for marijuana crimes.
    Northwest Ohio NORML endorses Ferner for Toledo mayor

    Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML shares his thoughts on Operation Golden Flow, a drug test aimed at finding heroin users among returning Vietnam veterans and the profits that help fuel the failed War on Drugs.
    Operation Golden Flow: America’s Urine is Liquid Gold for Drug War Profiteers

    Pittsburgh NORML recently avoided a long court battle with the NFL over a dispute related to the pro-marijuana group’s popular logo and one used by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    Pittsburgh Steelers Threaten NORML Chapter

    Members of Virginia NORML met to discuss their strategy to expand on HB 1445, a severely limited medical marijuana bill that was passed by the state legislature earlier this year.
    Proponents of Legalized Pot Plot Strategy

    With plenty of snowy months ahead, Wyoming NORML remains optimistic as they continue their work to gather roughly 25,000 signatures to put medical marijuana on the 2016 ballot.
    Signatures Still Needed to Get Medical Marijuana Up for Wyoming Vote

    Pamela Novy, executive director of Virginia NORML recently met with community leaders to discuss an effort to decriminalize marijuana in the city of Roanoke, Virginia.
    VA NORML Works With Local Lawmakers on Decriminalizing Marijuana

    Federal

    Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML pushed back against claims that marijuana is more harmful and dangerous than alcohol by citing a government-funded study that took place between 2012 and 2013.
    Americans’ Marijuana Use Has Doubled in the Past 10 Years, Report Finds

    Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML shared his concerns about major GOP candidates not taking a more definite position on the issue of legalizing marijuana on the federal level.
    Marijuana Industry Advocates Find GOP’s Lack of Pot Talk a Major Bummer

    Events

    Missouri NORML Fall Conference, November 7, St. Louis
    Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, November 11-13, Las Vegas
    High Times Cannabis Cup, November 12-15, Jamaica
    Denver NORML Holiday Potluck & Silent Auction, November 21, Denver
    NORML’s Legal Seminar, December 3-5, Key West