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2019

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML January 29, 2020

    Although we’re only one month into the Roaring 20’s, Nevada NORML has already hit the cannabis advocacy ground running at full sprint. Following a wild and groundbreakingly successful 2019 with several memorable events across both The Battle Born State and the nation as a whole, Nevada NORML wanted to ensure that their operations in 2020 surpassed even that of the previous year. After coming down from the high of coordinating all the panels for the CBD.io convention and hosting a festive Happy Holidays party at Nuwu’s historic cannabis consumption lounge, taking it to an even higher level in 2020 was absolutely vital.      

    Starting within the first few days of the year, Las Vegas NORML hosted their monthly meeting with a very special guest and a representative who’s become a huge legislative champion for cannabis, Assemblyman Steve Yeager. During the meeting, Yeager spoke about the new pieces of cannabis legislation signed by Governor Sisolak from the 2019 legislative session that Nevada NORML was instrumental in the passing of, such as Assembly Bill 132 and 192. As usual, Acres Underground was packed to capacity with passionate volunteers who span from across the cannabis community and those new faces eager to learn about cannabis advocacy.

    On January 22nd in the state-of-the-art Cannabis Business Den in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada NORML then hosted the first meeting of their extensive campaign for the countless elections occurring throughout all branches of government in November, lovingly called Smoke The Vote. During the meeting, Madisen, Executive Direcor, and Tina, Communications Director, spoke about how to register, the various strategies throughout Nevada that NORML and the many volunteers will be using for mass voter registration and awareness for further cannabis reform within the state and desperately needed reforms on the federal level.

    “Smoke the Vote has been a strong national campaign by NORML for years, and we here in Nevada are proud to do our part to contribute to it.” says Nevada NORML Director Madisen Saglibene. “By building bridges between consumers, industry, and government officials, we anticipate extremely high participation in the 2020 election cycle and beyond.”

    The innovative ways in which Nevada NORML will be finding consumers and turning them into new voters and volunteers will be vast far reaching across the state. 

    “Through partnerships with local dispensaries along with other supporters, we will be popping up at various locations to spread the word about the voter registration process. As we get closer to November, we will be providing voters with a scorecard based on candidates positions on cannabis reform. We look forward to working with candidates and consumers alike to work towards sensible solutions within marijuana policy.” describes Saglibene. 

    And just this past weekend, Las Vegas NORML ventured to visit friends up north, Reno NORML, and assist in their defining activities over the weekend. While there, Nevada NORML exhibited its true strength for providing the unique blend of cannabis culture and cannabis advocacy at Hookava hookah bar. And to their credit, Reno NORML hosted an inaugural fundraiser/party this past Saturday with a turnout and an exhilarating energy that could easily match any party at a hookah bar in Vegas. 

    “The amount of people that came together for our very first fundraiser to support responsible cannabis use was unbelievable.” described Reno NORML Treasurer, Heather Carona. “It was a great kickoff event for NORML officially coming to Northern Nevada and was an opportunity to share what we are about. So many vendors and people were willing to offer their time, and products for raffles or sponsorships. It was very inspiring.”

    To document, a couple of Reno NORML volunteers put together a video of the event, perfectly detailing the success of the fundraiser. 

    “NORML is tat he core of legal cannabis and we are at the forefront. Our first fundraiser’s success shows how hungry the community is for cannabis law reformation. History is being made.” said Reno NORML Communications Director, Conchita Maberry. 

    With events focusing on everything from the next steps in the Smoke The Vote campaign to Black History Month and the racial injustices that have come with cannabis prohibition, February is guaranteed to be one to remember and especially one to become involved in.

  • by Chris Goldstein, Regional NORML Organizer January 28, 2020

    Preliminary data*, released on request from the Pennsylvania State Police Uniform Crime Reporting System, reveals that overall arrests for marijuana possession showed a decline in 2019.

    In 2018 there were nearly 24,000 adults arrested for less than 30 grams of cannabis. The new data shows 19,990 adults arrested for the same offense in 2019.

    Chris Goldstein, a writer and regional organizer for NORML, has gathered Pa. cannabis arrest data since 2008. He called this “a significant shift.”

    “Previously, there were steady annual increases in arrests for cannabis possession – thousands more every year – while other drug arrests had plateaued. Now, there is a clear downward trend in arresting marijuana consumers.”

    “This is likely the result of two major policy changes: More than twenty decriminalization or penalty downgrade ordinances passed by city councils across the Commonwealth, and approximately a quarter of a million registered medical marijuana patients,” said Goldstein.

    Philadelphia instituted civil fine tickets in 2014, starting a wave of municipal action to stem cannabis arrests. The largest cities followed suit such as Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie and York. Most recently, in January, Norristown joined the list. Pennsylvania began offering registration for the medical cannabis program in 2017.

    Lehigh Valley NORML Executive Director Jeff Riedy helped pass several ordinances, and noted that Allentown’s has yet to be implemented.

    “We are clearly going to legalize marijuana and tax it here in the Keystone State, so we should stop these arrests right now,” said Reidy.

    Andy Hoover, spokesperson for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said that the data shows incremental progress but more remains to be done.

    “At the very least, this means less people who are cannabis consumers are getting tied up in the criminal legal system. That’s a positive,” Hoover said. “The damage that is done when a person is arrested is significant, and it’s people of color who are disproportionately impacted, despite the fact that cannabis consumption is the same across races. Ultimately, the state legislature can stop these arrests from happening altogether by wiping marijuana possession from the commonwealth’s criminal law. For now, at least police in Pennsylvania are arresting fewer people.”

    Although the data points to a promising new trend, Pennsylvania still ranks in the top five states where cannabis consumers face frequent arrest and prosecution. A recent report from Pew Research noted that Northeast states account for 53 percent of the nation’s 663,000 marijuana arrests –  9 out of 10 were for possession.

    Reporting from every corner of Pennsylvania has documented the injustices happening every day:

    • Police aggressively searching property, vehicles and people on the premise of marijuana.
    • Those who face arrest or even summary offenses for possession are often made to undergo questionable and expensive drug treatment programs to avoid further prosecution.
    • Constant THC testing sending people into an endless cycle of probation violations.
    • Cannabis consumers – even registered medical patients –  regularly enduring deep discrimination by property owners and employers.

    NORML Chapters and policy reform groups across the commonwealth are calling for immediate action from the General Assembly, Governor Tom Wolf, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro stop police from targeting more than a million local cannabis consumers for arrest and discrimination.

    “Marijuana prohibition will end in Pennsylvania. Law abiding cannabis consumers deserve better than getting arrested right until the moment we’re taxed,” said Lehigh Valley NORML’s Jeff Reidy.

    * Preliminary data as released on request from the PAUCRS, these numbers may change slightly when the Annual Uniform Crime Report is published in the fall. 

    For more information, please contact Jeff Riedy, 610-533-0906, lehighvnorml@gmail.com or NORML Regional Organizer Chris Goldstein 609 726 6030.

    Lehigh Valley NORML is a local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), a non-profit organization, fighting to reform cannabis laws nationwide. Their efforts include education, community outreach, and working with lawmakers.

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML January 7, 2020

    In terms of a successful year of operations that a non-profit organization could have, it’s unlikely that any organization had as historic of a year as Las Vegas NORML had. Over the course of twelve months, the proud fighters of the Las Vegas chapter have taken cannabis advocacy, education and community to otherworldly levels through a variety of far-reaching ways. Since January, the advocates traveled across Sin City, completed a tour across the Battle Born State and to our nation’s capital on behalf of medical patients and those who have been unfairly affected by the War on Drugs. 

    To list everything we’ve done in the nineteenth year of this century, we’ve compiled a list of our 19 favorite and most meaningful moments over the year, many of which were impossible without the incredible community of equally passionate advocates that we’re lucky to have as our supporters.  

    Hosted pop-ups across Las Vegas and Reno

    To collect signatures for our trip to Washington DC for NORML’s national conference and lobby day, we hosted pop-up stops at the many dispensaries across Las Vegas and a few in Reno. From Oasis to Acres, we collected thousands of signatures in total, consisting of constituents voicing their support for several pieces of federal legislation. Those large stacks of supportive letters were then delivered directly to their representatives in DC.

    Initiated a patient voucher program for eligible patients

    Through NORML’s partnership with Sahara Wellness, The Source, and MMJ America, over 2,500 product vouchers were redeemed by eligible patients, including veterans, senior citizens and the many other individuals who receive thapeutic relief from the plant. 

    Visited Sandy Valley, NV in support of a cultivation facility

    To show support and provide knowledge for the populace of Sandy Valley, volunteers from Las Vegas NORML attended a town hall meeting where we addressed the divided community on a cultivation facility opening in their town. Some citizens were apprehensive and remained that way, yet we provided resources and spoke directly with the community and heard their concerns regardless, showing that respectfully speaking and providing accurate information to opponents of cannabis reform is the best way to change the negative views some still hold.  

    Protested anti-cannabis act by Nevada state government

    When the state legislators pulled the plug on the plans of cannabis consumption lounges guaranteed by the Las Vegas city council vote, almost 40 volunteers showed up to protest the Legislature’s disregard for consumer rights at the entrance of the Grant Sawyer Building. And back in Carson City, NORML participated in a political rally with other reform-based groups such as American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood to combine our legislative efforts. 

    Black History Month Celebration

    For the 2nd year in a row, Las Vegas NORML hosted a seminar and panel discussion focused on diversity and equity within the cannabis space. These conversations helped provide deeper context on why we don’t see inclusivity as often in the marijuana industry – and how we can begin to change it from the ground up. 

    National NORML Conference & Lobby Day

    Every year our volunteers have the opportunity to learn more about activism and how our government works, then engage with our federal representatives in conversations about cannabis reform in Washington DC. We collaborated and shared ideas with dozens of other NORML chapters, then pled our cases to Nevada’s Congressional & Senate leaders. 

    Spoke with high-profile politicians such as Cory Booker and Susie Lee

    Through our advocacy and connections made in Las Vegas, volunteers from Nevada NORML chapters were able to attend political fundraisers and meet and greets with high-ranking politicians and presidential candidates, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee. We heard their viewpoints on cannabis reform and asked them questions in person on how their policies would affect consumers and patients.   

    Established a NORML chapter in Reno

    To expand the true reach of Nevada NORML, our volunteers created a chapter in our neighbor to the Northwest and the “Biggest Little City in the World”, Reno. Since its creation, Reno NORML began hosting monthly meetings alongside Budtender Fight Club to educate the community on state and federal laws.

    Director of Development Tina Ulman appeared on “The Ingraham Angle”

    Tina had the honor of appearing on the Fox News primetime program of a personality notoriously against cannabis, Laura Ingraham. During the segment, Tina defended the rights of patients and consumers as well as Assembly Bill 132 against Ingraham’s clear hostility and lack of promise to discussing the issue respectfully. Tina showed the true power of Nevada NORML’s advocacy on a national level. 

    Organized a virtual lobbying mission on Veterans’ Day 

    To show continued support for our nation’s heroes and legislation that could greatly expand their legal access to medical cannabis such as the Veterans’ Safe Harbor Act, Nevada NORML created a virtual lobbying day in which advocates continually call the offices of their federal representatives to voice support for these bills. Dozens of calls were made by Nevadan’s to each district, delivering a direct message to representatives in DC.     

     Created panel lineup at Reno Cannabis Convention

    To continue our support for the community in Reno, we organized every informative panel at the 2nd Annual Reno Cannabis Convention, including subjects such as diversity in the industry, personal cultivation, and tips on best smoking apparatus. 

    Organized a 50+ panel discussion for CBD.io

    In November, Las Vegas NORML organized an extensive series of panel discussions for the CBD mega-convention with cameo appearances by Mike Tyson and Dennis Rodman, CBD.io. With over 100 panelists in total, we hosted discussions on everything from culinary uses to politics/law, and several on CBD and health, from mental health to its possible medicinal uses and even sexual health.

    Nevada & Las Vegas NORML Director Madisen Saglibene receives NORML Activist of the Year Award

    A passionate fighter and volunteer for cannabis, our wonderful state director Madisen Saglibene won a national award from NORML and one very well deserved. Madisen received the honorable title of NORML’s Activist of the Year award for her tireless efforts in planning an impactful and memorable year of cannabis advocacy for the state of Nevada. 

    Meetings Grew Substantially in Size

    Throughout monthly meetings in 2019, we became humbled by all the new and continued attendance by advocates and those passionate about cannabis reform, medical access and legal rights for consumers. From only a few dozen to well over a hundred, being able to see the power of cannabis advocacy in Las Vegas grow so much during this year is something we’ll forever be grateful for. It is thanks to Acres Dispensary that we had the wonderful opportunity to utilize the Underground for these monthly meetings.

    Lobbied for Medical Access and Cannabis Reform in Carson City

    Volunteers from Nevada NORML travelled to our state capital of Carson City and lobbied for cannabis-related legislation this during Nevada’s 2019 Legislative Session. Among our greatest accomplishments was the passing of Assembly Bill 132, which protected legal cannabis consumers from refusal of employees due to a positive cannabis result on a drug test. Additionally, AB 192, allowing expansions for record sealing in Nevada. Other legislative efforts made by our activists helped expand qualifications for medical marijuana and eliminate needless discrimination by CPS upon cannabis patient parents.

    Took a tour of Northern Nevada

    As part of the reason for starting the Reno chapter of NORML, our volunteers went on a tour across Northern Nevada in June. During our time there, we held a meeting in Fallon, meeting the owner of the only existing dispensary in town called Green Cross Farmacy, one that can only be medical only due to local prohibitions. We went to other dispensaries across the state to advocate. We built support further for cannabis in areas not often visited by cannabis or reform groups. 

    Attended numerous cannabis industry trade shows

    Besides organizing the panel discussions for CBD.io and Reno Cannabis Convention, the volunteers of Las Vegas NORML also remain involved with the businesses of the cannabis industry by attending trade shows such as the 2-day Champs Cannabis Trade Show and presented during the Associations Day portion of MJBizCon to educate and partner with companies passionate about cannabis reform.  

    Established and increased a media presence for Nevada NORML

    In 2019, NORML drastically increased our online presence. By utilizing social media and an amazing videographer, we were able to quickly spread information for advocacy efforts such as our Veterans Day Virtual Lobbying Day and capture quality videos of our events and happenings to show directly to our volunteers at meetings and social media followings. 

    Fantastic new brand partnerships

    2019 brought us such wealth in terms of supportive cannabis industry sponsors. Our relationships with brands like The Source, Old Pal, Fleur and Pure Extracts (to name a few) are extremely authentic! These respected brands support our mission and are constantly finding ways to be more involved. It was with their support that we were able to travel to Washington DC to lobby for cannabis consumer rights.

    Overall, 2019 was a historic year for both Las Vegas and Reno NORML, with our advocacy efforts and actions across the country reaching equally as historic levels. We once again witnessed that even though cannabis may be recreationally legal in the Battle Born State, the fight for consumer and patient rights is far over and in 2020, our volunteers plan on continuing the fight on every front. Thank you to all our phenomenal volunteers for their appreciation and support of NORML and get ready for a groundbreaking 2020.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director December 30, 2019

    2019 has been an unprecedented year for the passage of state-level marijuana law reforms and when we zoom out, it’s remarkable to reflect upon what we have accomplished. 

    That is why are proud to publish Marijuana Reform Is Normal, which is the only comprehensive report detailing all of our collective victories in 2019. 

    Click here to read the report or download the presentation PDF

    As documented in this report, legislators across the country approved a litany of new marijuana legislation this year addressing a wide spectrum of issues. Now, nearly 1 in 4 Americans reside in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legal, and 33 states regulate medical marijuana access.

    Public opinion continues to grow in support of ending marijuana prohibition, with two-thirds of adults — including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and independents — now in favor of making the plant legal. Alongside growing public support, politicians, including those at some of the highest levels of government, are now recognizing the rapidly changing cultural and legal status of cannabis.

    We will be sending this report to state and federal lawmakers around the country. If you can, please chip in $10 or more to help cover the printing costs.

    After this historically successful year, we expect to see public and political support continue to increase in 2020 as more and more states implement sensible cannabis regulatory policies. But we can only do that if we continue to educate and build public support. 

    Click here to share the 2019 Marijuana Reform Is Normal report on Facebook

    Click here to share the 2019 Marijuana Reform Is Normal report on Twitter

    Together, we’re going to continue to accomplish great things. We deeply appreciate your support and hard work as we inch closer to cannabis freedom nationwide. 

    Onward,

    Erik 

  • by Chris Jonsson, NORML South Africa December 19, 2019

    NORML South Africa was established in 2008 and has been active in the growing cannabis culture scene. Over the past year, NORML has hosted activism events in conjunction with other cannabis organisations and still supports the Dagga Party of South Africa, a registered pro-cannabis political party.  

    Cannabis Law

    On the 18th of September 2018, Judge Dennis Davis passed a landmark ruling in the Cape Town High Court that cannabis essentially be decriminalized for private adult use. Although there are no defined limitations to this progressive ruling, a lot of arrests have still been taking place. Fields of Green For All in South Africa is an activist group that has been fighting the laws for several years and they support people through their organisation that have been either charged or arrested for possession of cannabis. They are still dealing with daily calls and emails from victims who have been arrested. 

    Cannabis 2019

    Over the past year, South Africa’s cannabis culture has come out of the woodwork and established itself as an industry on its own. Start-up seedbanks, locally manufactured extraction companies, both CBD and THC oil companies, headshops, coffeeshops and even a cannabis dispensary retail store are now doing business in all major cities across the country. Just last month, Canna Tech and the Cannabis Expo were hugely successful events in both Cape Town and Johannesburg alike. Many local and international companies displayed their cannabis products and services to thousands of attendees. 

    Canna Tech 2019

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctkzsXmgztc

    Cannabis Tourism

    South Africa even had the pleasure of welcoming international cannabis activists like Marc Emery, Joseph Pietri and the DabStars crew, just to name a few. From all their feedback, they were not only treated like royalty, but also overwhelmed with the hospitality, friendly people, and of course, the great ganja South Africa is known for.

    Cannabis Cups

    Many local cannabis cups have taken place during the course of the past year, some only flowers and some concentrate cups. All of these cups had top-quality entries from local cultivators and processors. Cannabis even won two first prizes at the 113th Agricultural Show show held in Bathurst, rural Eastern Cape. The live plants were entered into the culinary herb and exotic fruits categories. They were on display over the 3 days the show took place, whereby thousands of farmers and spectators took notice of the prize winning plants. 

    Cannabis First Prize at the 2019 Agricultural Show

    https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv3gm5eg38u/ 

    Cannabis Beer

    Its been one hell of a high year in South Africa! South Africans can even cheers with an award-winning locally brewed cannabis beer. On the 15th of August 2019, Poison City Brewing was honored with the award when put up against 189 other local brewed beers.

    “This is absolutely fantastic! We set out to make a great tasting, refreshing, highly drinkable beer that is true to us, true to our hometown of Durban and true to the art of beermaking – we always knew that our cannabis beer could compete with the best beers out there”, said Andre Schubert, co-founder of Poison City Brewing, along with fellow rebel brewer, Graeme Bird.

    The Cannabis Expo

    The Cannabis Expo was hosted last month in Johannesburg at the Sandton Convention Centre. Over the course of 2 days, thousands of people attended the largest cannabis event throughout Africa. Hundreds of cannabis companies displaying their products, ranging from international and local seedbanks, NGO’s, headshops, CBD retailers through to cannabis magazine publications and cannabis podcast crews.

    Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fN9gmtb_GhU&t=94s

    Cannabis in South Africa 2020

    The scene is heating up in South Africa and one can positively expect good things to come in 2020 for the cannabis industry. While we all wind down for the end of the year and festive celebrations, NORML South Africa would like to wish the cannabis community worldwide safe and happy celebrations. See you in the new year with some more great things to come.

    Highest Regards,

    Chris Jonsson
    NORML South Africa
    chrisj@norml.org.za
    https://www.facebook.com/normlza

    https://twitter.com/normlza

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