Following the decision by Colorado voters to legalize recreational marijuana in November of 2012, we’ve seen similar victories in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and even in our nation’s capitol. To many outside observers, these recent successes appear to have come over night. But this is not the case. These changes have been decades in the making and cannot be attributed to any one specific person or campaign.
For years, marijuana activists have worked tirelessly to lay the foundation for future legalization efforts in this country. From the early days of employing civil disobedience tactics such as public smoke-outs and regular protests, to a more modern approach of meeting with elected officials through citizen lobbying efforts, marijuana activists are the workhorses in the fight to end the prohibition of marijuana. They are the boots on the ground.
Of course this level of commitment eventually takes its toll. Being a marijuana activist can be extremely draining, both mentally and physically. In addition to the constant scrutiny from friends and family, we often risk losing our job, housing and in some cases, custody of our children. Regardless of the many risks we face, we continue to fight another day, even with no guarantee of what the outcome may be — essentially risking our freedom to challenge over 70 years of oppressive marijuana laws.
We wake up each day motivated by the hope of changing the unjust laws our country has embraced for so many years. We strive to bring justice to the thousands of Americans who have lost almost everything for a simple possession charge, and the families that have been ripped apart because a desperate mother tried to find her child some relief through medical marijuana.
Marijuana activists in every state dedicate countless hours to advocating for marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level. They are constantly educating our communities, building coalitions and planning the next step. Like a game of Chess, every decision is calculated. With doubtful community leaders and skeptical politicians, the tiniest misstep can quickly become a roadblock for future conversations about marijuana reform.
Some of these activities may sound risky and not very glamorous. Nonetheless, marijuana activist will continue to be the driving force behind any success effort to reform our country’s marijuana laws. Whether through a citizen-led initiative or a legislative effort, marijuana activists are taking action into their own hands to end the senseless war against a plant and the American people. So to marijuana activists past, present and future, thank you for your sacrifices and continued dedication to ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.
If you’re interested in changing marijuana laws in your city and/or state, there are several ways you can get involved. From working with our national office to organize a new group of passionate reformers in your community, to using our online Action Center to engage your elected officials, NORML is here to assist you with your efforts. 2016 is already shaping up to be a historic year for marijuana reforms so make sure your voice is heard by joining NORML today!
Four states down, forty-six more to go!
With 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.
Every day 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
California NORML urges medical marijuana businesses to embrace new regulations by registering with California’s Board of Equalization and securing permits from local governments.
California Reacts to New Medical Cannabis Regulations
MassCann/NORML’s “Bay State Repeal Proposal”, a measure aimed at legalizing marijuana in 2016, was well received at this year’s Boston Freedom Rally. Volunteers worked hard gathering signatures over the weekend.
Canna Culture Column: MassCann’s Freedom Rally on the Common
Wyoming NORML utilizes both traditional and nontraditional tactics to push for medical marijuana in the Cowboy State! With just 26,000 signatures needed for their initiative to qualify for the November 2016 ballot, everyone is working overtime to get the job done.
How Receptive are Teton County Residents to Legalizing Weed?
Mid-Missouri NORML is leading an effort along with MU Students for Sensible Drug Policy and MU NORML to decriminalize the growing of marijuana in Columbia, Missouri. With only 2,567 signatures needed, volunteers are excited to get started!
Local Petition Seeks to Decriminalize Growing up to Six Marijuana Plants
Enthusiasm for legalization in Missouri is at an all time high as Springfield NORML, Show-Me Cannabis and New Approach Missouri ramp up their signature gathering campaign!
Marijuana Petition Campaigns Kicking Off in the Ozarks
After serving 22 years for the possession of marijuana, Jeff Mizanskey stopped by Springfield NORML to share some of the personal struggles he’s dealing with after spending a ? of his life behind bars.
Mizanskey Visits Springfield After Prison Release
Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, shared his thoughts on the lack of banking opportunities for California’s soon to be legal marijuana industry and tried to dispel any fears about a new administration heavily enforcing federal marijuana laws.
New Regulations Don’t clear all the hurdles for pot dispensaries
Illinois NORML urged legislators to adopt new language for HB 218 that would have drastically reduced penalties for the possession of marijuana. Lawmakers ultimately passed the bill, but only after they increased some of the penalties defined in the bill.
Senate Return Delayed but Little For it to Do
Last week, national marijuana reform groups parted ways with Reform CA, California’s broadest based marijuana reform coalition. Dale Gieringer, executive director of California NORML, continues to vow his organization’s unwavering support for what he feels is a, “superior product”.
Trouble in La La Land: Late Divisions Emerge Among California Legalization Initiative Supporters
As things begin to heat up in the final weeks of the 2015 elections, Virginia NORML decided to jump in the fight for Virginia’s 24th House District by endorsing Ellen Arthur for House of Delegates.
Virginia NORML endorses Ellen Arthur in 24th District House race
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, sat down with ATTN: to discuss what impact, if any, marijuana will have on the 2016 election. With conflicting data related to turnout in 2012 and 2014, it’s hard to predict if the youth vote will be a factor.
Marijuana Could Change the 2016 Election
Kevin Mahmalji is NORML’s national outreach and chapter coordinator
NORML activist and leadership awards, a silent auction and social on Thursday night are all on tap (so to speak…).
Marijuana is becoming legal in our lifetimes. Please join us at the nation’s capitol and help hasten these long-needed public policy reforms by lobbying your elected policy makers.
*There are over 40 million cannabis consumers in the United States (according to government data) and NORML knows that 99.99999% of these direct stakeholders are not going to come to Washington to lobby on cannabis law reforms next week, but, that does not mean they can’t be active on May 21st–NORML Lobby Day–contacting their federal policymakers (one congressperson and two senators)
If you and your cannabis tolerant friends and family can’t join us in Washington, D.C. next week, please consider, for the day, being a ‘virtual lobbyist’ for cannabis law reform. To do so, please visit NORML’s Take Action Center
Thanks in advance and hope to see you next week in Washington (where the possession and use of cannabis by adults over 21 years of age is legal).
Allen St. Pierre
NORML / NORML Foundation
p.s. The NORML social has separate ticket necessary for attendance @ $25/per person.
“Rep. O’Rourke is an ardent supporter of reforming our nation’s marijuana policies,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “In just his first term, he has proven to be an intelligent and pragmatic politician with a long future in front of him. We strongly encourage voters to support his re-election campaign to keep a true reform champion in Congress.”
Representative O’Rourke issued the following statement to supporters and voters on the topic:
“Those of us who live in this region, in El Paso and Juarez, have a unique perspective on the war on drugs. We know that billions of dollars in cash, drugs, guns and arms are transited through this community. We know that billions of dollars in federal resources from the United States and Mexico are spent on law enforcement to try and stop that illicit drug trade. And we also know, all too well, the suffering that accompanies that black market trade in illegal drugs. It is because of that experience and looking back over the 40-year, failed war on drugs that I’ve come to the conclusion that at least when it comes to a drug like marijuana, we owe ourselves, and especially our kids, a much better policy.
As a rational and humane country, we can decide, as we did with alcohol that the harms in the prohibition of marijuana far outweigh any gains in security and in our efforts to keep these drugs away from our fellow citizens.
If you support my work and advocacy on this issue, I hope I can count on your help.”
For the next 24 hours, Rep. O’Rourke will be running a “Powered by People” campaign with the goal of raising $123,200 in amounts less than $200 to illustrate that everyday citizens can compete with special interests in politics and issues such as marijuana law reform drive voter engagement. If you are interested in donating to this campaign you can do so by clicking here (donations are tracked so donations made through this link will show as support for his marijuana reform stance).