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  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director April 18, 2018

    Following tradition, marijuana consumers and advocates from around the globe are organizing rallies, marches and other acts of political expression or civil disobedience in advance of this year’s celebration of 4/20, an annual protest against the prohibition of marijuana. While these public events are often effective at generating some buzz and raising public awareness, they are rarely organized to directly influence or appeal to those elected officials who continue to oppose common sense marijuana law reform efforts.

    To increase the political effectiveness of these events, NORML chapters are planning to combine these traditional events with a robust presence on social media that includes a call-to-action urging federal lawmakers to support HR 1227: The Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act. If passed by Congress, this legislation will eliminate federal criminal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, give states the power and flexibility to establish their own marijuana policies free from federal interference, and remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow for more marijuana research both recreationally and medicinally.

    NORML Chapters will continue to use these public events to demonstrate that our culture is a growing part of the broader community, and to raise awareness and support for marijuana law reform efforts.

    A couple examples of which are:

    Members of Chicago NORML have a lot to celebrate after voters in Cook County, Illinois voted to approve, “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older,” through a non binding referendum earlier this year. Organizers are planning a 4/20 celebration that will help fund educational & outreach efforts in their community.

    In South Carolina, members of Lowcountry NORML are hosting a 4/20 rally in downtown Charleston to raise awareness about marijuana’s proven medicinal benefits, its hundreds of industrial uses, and the obvious need to end the mass arrest, stigmatization, and incarceration of nonviolent marijuana consumers. To help spread the word, supporters will be wearing t-shirts, holding signs, sharing stories, and asking others to join the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

    Below is a list of events that are taking place around the country:

    Alabama

    Alabama NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/144416092932869/

    California

    Humboldt NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/176073716520697/

    Monterey County NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/150183702470495/

    Colorado

    Denver NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2137082429854938/

    Southern Colorado NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/165225564129646/

    Delaware

    Delaware NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/420211771762876/

    Florida

    Northeast Florida NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/2049355575350535/

    Illinois

    Chicago NORML – https://chicagonorml.z2systems.com/np/clients/chicagonorml/eventRegistration.jsp?event=503&

    Indiana

    Indiana NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1964672153792901/

    Purdue NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/353749958430389/

    Iowa

    Iowa NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1173742189395622/

    Kentucky

    Kentucky NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/155608048425043/

    Minnesota

    Minnesota NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/582709222121912/

    Minnesota NORML Women’s Coalition – https://www.facebook.com/events/121504848551480/

    New Mexico

    New Mexico NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1546743615424372/

    New York

    Western New York NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1983972578530607/

    North Carolina

    North Carolina NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1568205869881130/

    Charlotte NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/296119900919588/

    NC NORML of the Triangle – https://www.facebook.com/events/457312888018481/

    South Carolina

    Aiken NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/146375166036064/

    Lowcountry NORML – https://normlsc.org/pages/420-rally

    Tennessee

    Memphis NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1673604129371656/

    Texas

    DFW NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/185597428714345/

    El Paso NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1779571042339535/

    Houston NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/556580421390187/

    Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1893685727608368/

    Hub City NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/576627839344019/

    Southeast Texas NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/221071241791222/

    Texas NORML – http://www.austinreggaefest.com/

    Virginia

    Hampton Roads NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/217136348839688/

    Roanoke NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/158436751510406/

    Wisconsin

    Southeastern Wisconsin NORML – https://www.facebook.com/events/1894312693920769/

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 5, 2014

    On Saturday, over two thousand Texans joined DFW NORML in Ft. Worth to rally against the prohibition of marijuana.

    dfwrally

    The rally was part of an all day event hosted by the Dallas-Fort Worth NORML chapter. The day’s activities kicked off at noon with a festival style atmosphere featuring vendors, speakers, and musical entertainment. At 4:20pm the crowd marched from their location to the Tarrant County Courthouse (pictured above).

    Similar rallies were held nationwide, with many being hosted by NORML affiliates, both regionally in locations such as Austin and El Paso and as far away as Newark, Delaware.

    You can become part of the grassroots movement that is sweeping the nation. Join your local NORML chapter and get active in reforming marijuana laws in your own state. Click here to find the group nearest to you.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director July 24, 2013

    sdpvii2This Friday, Philly NORML and The Panic Hour return to Independence Mall in Philadelphia for the seventh installment in their monthly protests against marijuana prohibition.

    From the organizers:

    “After six successful rallies, The Panic Hour and Philly Norml return with the seventh edition of Smoke Down Prohibition.

    We ask you to join us and peacefully sit-in at The Liberty Bell to stand up against cannabis prohibition.

    This time the rally will be on Friday, July 26th and we will be gathering for the event at 4:20pm. Meeting location is Independence Mall at 5th St and Market St.

    Click here for more info and to RSVP”

    Speaking on the evolution of the Smoke Down events, one of the primary organizers, The Panic Hour’s NA Poe stated, “Although I will not be able to attend the protest in person, it brings me great joy that so many people are planning to stand up against marijuana prohibition by sitting in with us at the liberty bell. As Smoke Down grows and evolves, we will continue to use a blend of comedy and direct action to combat the absurdity of Cannabis prohibition.”

    Chris Goldstein, writer for Philly.com and Philly NORML Board Member, encouraged legalization supporters to join the protest and push for an end to the war on cannabis. “Marijuana will be legal when everyone who consumes it for medication or recreation raises their voices to the federal government,” Goldstein said, “It is a privilege to participate in ‘Smoke Down Prohibition’ at historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia. This is the only monthly event in America focused on legalizing cannabis and keeping pressure on the federal government. We will keep it growing.”

    Learn about the new “sit-in” format and what to expect from the seventh Smoke Down Prohibition by watching this video created by the organizers:

    YouTube Preview Image

    We hope to see all of you by the Liberty Bell this Friday!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 5, 2013

    poeOn May 18th, The Panic Hour and PhillyNORML held “Smoke Down Prohibition V” in a free speech zone near the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, PA. As the name suggests, this was the fifth such event they had organized. The previous four were well attended, with hundreds of legalization advocates attending and peacefully demonstrating against our country’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition. You can view video of the largest event, held on April 20th of this year, by clicking here.

    The previous rallies went off without a hitch. Protestors were peaceful and respectful while law enforcement kept their distance and allowed them to voice their constitutionally guaranteed rights (as evidenced in this video, where National Park Police refuse to interfere with the event). This time, things were different. It was immediately clear from the outset that the police were taking a different approach to Smoke Down Prohibition V, from the very beginning the police presence was massive, with a couple dozen officers standing by and a newly erected fence in place to keep the attendees contained.

    Smoke Down Prohibition V continued as planned, despite the inclement weather and ominous group of National Park Service Officers and Philadelphia Police keeping watch. Speakers addressed the crowd of about 100 through the rain and things seemed to be going smoothly. However, as The Panic Hour’s N.a. Poe began the countdown to 4:20, a time at which the crowd traditionally engages in a moment of “cannabis reflection,” the police made their move. Rushing past a crowd of people openly smoking cannabis, they stormed the stage and began the process of violently detaining several marijuana activists, including N.a. Poe, radio host Adam Kokesh, and New Jersey Libertarian candidate for Senate, Don DeZarn. The travesty that followed can be best understood by watching cell phone video captured from the scene below:


    (Poe’s arrest starts around 1:50 mark, he is in the hat and yellow shirt being violently pinned to the ground by law enforcement.)

    When the dust settled, several were detained and released. N.a. Poe and Adam Kokesh were taken into federal custody. For six days they were held in solitary confinement at a nearby federal detention center, with Poe being denied even a single phone call. The confinement was supposed to provide him with one hour out of solitary for every 23 hours he was in, but this often did not occur, with Poe spending over 36 hours straight in his cell at points. During these six days, he was also denied recreation, access to lawyers, and medical treatment.


    Photo Credit: Vanessa Maria, The Panic Hour

    When they were brought up for a hearing on their charges, Poe was charged with felony assault on a federal officer and resisting arrest though Kokesh ultimately had his charges dropped to citations. Unfortunately, Poe still must appear in court under these trumped up allegations, which it seems rather clear to any who watched the countless videos, filmed at multiple angles, never happened.

    Despite law enforcement’s best efforts to silence him, Poe remains undaunted in his fight against our nation’s absurd marijuana policy. “The suppression of freedom of speech and targeting of activists expressing their views at the birthplace of liberty is a travesty that casts a bright light on the failure of marijuana prohibition at a federal level,” he stated.

    N.a Poe and The Panic Hour have long been supporters and friends of NORML and the marijuana legalization movement and the seemingly purposeful targeting of him and several other marijuana activists is an appalling example of the lengths law enforcement will go to, not just to criminalize marijuana smokers, but to silence our ability to utilize our First Amendment rights speak out against this prohibition. NORML will keep you updated as his case moves forward, you can click here to learn more how you can help by supporting N.a. Poe’s legal defense fund.

    Not ones to be intimidated, The Panic Hour and PhillyNORML will be hosting Smoke Down Prohibition VI on June 30th, featuring a pro-legalization march with the Cannabus and live comments from N.a. Poe (who will have to be video streamed in as the conditions of his release require him to stay off of federal park property). Stay tuned to The Panic Hour and PhillyNORML‘s facebook pages for more info very soon.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive 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!

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