• by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director September 19, 2012

    This past weekend, tens of thousands of marijuana reform advocates joined MassCANN/NORML on the Boston Common for the 23rd Annual Boston Freedom Rally. This year’s event was a great success, featuring a mix of engaging speakers, entertaining musical acts, diverse vendors, and beautiful weather. Speakers included Jodie Emery, Rep. Barney Frank, Judge Jim Gray, and countless others. If you missed the event this year, be sure to stay tuned to masscann.org for information on next year’s rally as it becomes available. Check out NORML’s photo slideshow from the event below, in addition to several videos of the rally speakers. See you on the Common in 2013!

    Click here to view NORML’s Flickr set.

    Erik Altieri (NORML)

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    Dr. Sunil Aggarwal

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    Judge Jim Gray (Libertarian VP Nominee)

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    Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

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    More videos are available from MassCann’s livestream archive here.

    (Photos by NORML’s Sabrina Fendrick, Barney Frank and Jim Gray video courtesy of MikeCann.net)

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director September 10, 2012

    This Saturday, MassCann/NORML will be hosting the 23rd annual Freedom Rally in Boston, MA. The rally will be held on the Boston Common on September 15, 2012 beginning at Noon and ending at 6:00pm. Previous rallies have drawn upwards of 50,000 attendees, so be sure not to miss this amazing day of speakers, live music, vendors, community and activism.

    The event is free and open to the public. There is nothing else like the Freedom Rally on the East Coast, come out and stand with us in support of marijuana law reform!

    This year’s speakers include:

    Erik Altieri (Communication Director NORML)
    Rep. Barney Frank (MA Congressman)
    Jodie Emery (Owner of Cannabis Culture Magazine)
    Lester Grinspoon (Author of Marihuana Reconsidered)
    Allen St. Pierre (Executive Director NORML)
    Sabrina Fendrick (Founder of NORML Women’s Alliance)
    Keith Stroup (Founder of NORML)
    Jon Napoli (Hempest)
    Diane Fornbacher (Co-Vice Chair NORML Women’s Alliance)
    Greta Gaines (NORML Board Member & NORML Women’s Alliance)
    Judge Jim Gray (Running Mate with Gary Johnson for Presidential Candidate)

    You can view the full roster of speakers and bands by visiting the Boston Freedom Rally’s webpage here.

    Be sure to RSVP to the Rally on Facebook and encourage your friends to join you!

    Click here to RSVP.

    See you on the Common!

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director March 6, 2011

    The Seattle Times published their account of Friday’s meeting with Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske here.

    Excerpt from ‘An Hour with the Drug Czar‘:

    The Editorial Board’s meeting with Gil Kerlikowske turned into a big deal. Kerlikowske, the former police chief here in Seattle, is now director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In other words, he’s the “Drug Czar” — a title he made fun of in our meeting when he responded to a question by saying, “If I knew the answer, I’d be more than a czar. I’d be king.”

    In the paper of Sunday, Feb 20, The Times published an editorial arguing that marijuana be legalized, regulated, taxed and sold by the state of Washington. Two days later we received a request from Kerlikowske’s office that he wanted to talk to us; he could pay a visit March 4 at 2:45 p.m. Sure, we said.

    Clearly this was because of our editorial. I recalled a year ago, when I wrote a column saying that legalization was coming, and that I favored it, that I received a call from Kerlikowske’s office for the first (and only) time. The Director would like to talk with me, the woman said. Would I be available at 3:00 the following afternoon? Yes, I said, I would. I wondered if he was going to chew on my ear, but in the event he missed the call, and instead sent me a copy of a speech he had given to police chiefs in San Jose.

    This time around, the word got out, probably through me, that he had asked to speak to the Times Editorial Board. Dominic Holden of The Stranger called me and asked me about it and put out a report on their blog, The Slog. Holden quoted me accurately, but his headline framed Kerlikowske’s visit as an attempt to “bully” The Seattle Times. It was a stretch to call it that. Holden wrote that it was “an apparent attempt by the federal government to pressure the state’s largest newspaper to oppose marijuana legalization. Or at least turn down the volume on its new-found bullhorn to legalize pot.”

    NORML, The National Organization to Reform the Marijuana Laws, picked up the story from The Slog. Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, portrayed Kerlikowske’s visit as an effort to “squelch” our mainstream-media voice.

    Later on Friday, Mr. Kerlikowske was interviewed on KCTS…

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director August 14, 2010

    In exactly one week an amazing annual event in the long struggle to reform cannabis laws comes to the fore.

    NORML Advisory Board Member and Best-Selling Travel Author Rick Steves Addresses Hempfest's 100,000 @ 4:20

    Below is an important message from the Seattle Hempfest. You can either donate via Hempfest.org, or participate in their new ‘Fundraising Crew’.

    There is no hyperbole when one states that the now 19-year-old Seattle Hempfest is the largest pro-cannabis rally on the face of our good green earth. Over 200,000 anti-prohibitionists pour into a beautiful, mile-long park that faces Puget Sound for two days of speeches, education and music in support of ending America’s longest war–the US government’s 73-year-old war against cannabis consumers and the plant itself.

    (To place this in some perspective: I grew up in a small town on Cape Cod that has a population under 6,000…to see over 200,000 citizens peacefully gather in protest annually has been truly an awesome and informative experience I encourage others to have as well.)

    Over 850,000 Americans will likely be arrested this year on cannabis-related charges in America–90% for possession only. How many people will likely be arrested at the Seattle Hempfest despite massive, protest-driven and open cannabis consumption? Likely, not a single adult.

    The Hempfest has helped pave the way for medical cannabis laws in Washington State, the virtual decriminalization of cannabis under one ounce in Seattle and is setting the stage once again for big changes in cannabis laws: a state-wide legalization ballot initiative, as well as legislation to both decriminalize and legalize.

    What does it cost to see over 30 bands on three stages, get educated and motivated by the most active cannabis law reformers from around the world, have access to over 200 booths that sell glass and hemp products, eat great food and use cannabis without fear of arrest?

    Zilch. Zip. Nothing. Nada. Free.

    That’s right. No kidding. Free!

    This entire massive two-day ‘protestival’ is put on entirely by volunteers–hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.

    Does it cost money to lawfully, safely and responsibly stage a small city for nearly a week?

    You bet it does!

    Well over $100,000 for all of the leased staging, lighting, sound equipment, tents, booths, over one hundred ‘Port-o-Johns’, security, communication equipment fencing, event insurance, police overtime and even t-shirts for the hundreds of volunteers who manage the entrances, security and stages.

    Take it from someone who has convened large concerts, conferences and protests–The Seattle Hempfest does it right and they need our support to make this AMAZING event in the history of cannabis law reform continue to happen until cannabis has been effectively legalized.

    Then, after over 20 years of self-sacrifice and hard work, when cannabis is legal, there will be one last Seattle Hempfest…to celebrate the hard fought battle for personal freedom, autonomy and freedom. I’m really, really looking forward to that notable Hempfest celebration!

    But until that soon-to-come day occurs, please join NORML and me in lending support to the great all-volunteer effort that it will take to stage next week’s 19th annual Seattle Hempfest.

    National NORML along with numerous NORML chapters from around the country have booths , so come on by and say ‘high!’

    As always, thanks for caring and sharing.

    Cannabem liberemus!!

    * * * * *

    An Important Request From Seattle Hempfest Organizers:

    Please join our new Hempfest Fundraising Crew this year to help raise a million bucks for cannabis. 250,000+ enthusiasts will be at Hempfest

    August 21-22. We have a plan to ask each of them to donate to the Hempfest organization. If they give an average of $4, we’ll raise a million bucks for cannabis! All we need is your help building a team big enough to reach them all.

    There will be an orientation party the Wednesday before Hempfest and we graciously and urgently request your attendance.

    What: Volunteer orientation party for Hempfest Fundraising Crew

    When: Wednesday, Aug 18, 7PM

    Where: Myrtle Edwards Park, south entrance near the fountain, Seattle


    And…: Snacks and refreshments provided

    Contact: Ezra Eickmeyer, 360-301-1842, ezra@olypen.com

    If you can’t attend the Wednesday orientation party, please let us know which days you can volunteer at Hempfest (Aug. 21-22, 10AM – 8PM) and at which times. 4-5 hour shifts are requested.

    Finally, please recruit friends and family to come help as well. We’ll need as many as 60 volunteers per shift to make these efforts work, which means 240+ volunteers rallying together for the cause over one weekend. We still need over 100 volunteer shifts to be filled, so e-mail and call everyone. Thank you!!!

    In Solidarity,

    -Ezra Eickmeyer, Coordinator Hempfest Fundraising Crew ezra@olypen.com