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Citizen Lobbyists

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML October 2, 2019

    Once again, Nevada NORML has remained hard at work, advocating for both patient access and rights as well as the criminal justice reform that this country desperately requires. However, this time, they’ve taken their advocacy to our nation’s capital for NORML’s National Conference to lobby for reform on the federal level and expanded access to medicinal cannabis, such as The MORE Act and the Veterans Affairs Medicinal Cannabis Research Act of 2019.

    During the previous months, Las Vegas NORML traversed the Battle Born State’s dispensaries, collecting signatures from medical patients and consumers alike in support of the surprising amount of monumental federal cannabis reform legislation, many of which would positively affect the lives of the consumers themselves. With every visit, we laid witness to the true strength and diversity of those who want cannabis reform. From Vietnam to Iraq war veterans to cancer survivors who swear by cannabis to those whose lives have been irreparably damaged from The War on Drugs, the Las Vegas chapter collected over 2000 signatures from constituents to hand deliver to their respective representatives, hopefully serving as a strong visual reminder of the support behind federal reform.   

    “The letter writing campaign was one of the most impactful ways that we showed legislators that their constituents want change.” said Tina Ulman, Communications Director.    

    “This was the third year that Nevada NORML members have been able to represent consumers at the federal level in DC,” said Nevada NORML director Madison Saglibene.  “Easily our most successful effort, we anticipate all of our federal representatives to cosponsor pending legislation that will work towards protections for veterans in the coming weeks.”

    Throughout the conference, Nevada NORML’s A-team of diverse volunteers met with representatives such as Congressman Steven Horsford to show their gratitude for his co-sponsorship of The MORE Act, as well as Nevada’s other members of Congress who may not be so open to cannabis reform such as Mark Amodei. They listened to informative and impactful speeches from notable individuals such as Hawaii Congresswoman and presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard, who most importantly sponsored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.

    Along with Gabbard, NORML volunteers heard the current federal state of cannabis and possible reforms from longtime cannabis reform supporter and chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus and bowtie connoisseur, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. 

    The impact of Nevada NORML’s trip to Washington DC created a ripple effect that will be felt for years down the road in our community and will certainly lead to further reforms in 2021, both within Nevada and on the federal level.

    Even with the glitz and glamour of Washington, Saglibene and the other Nevada NORML volunteers who attended are most grateful towards our community members, cannabusinesses and philanthropy groups that provided a generous donation to our efforts regardless of the size.

    “It is not without the support of our community members and state, that we were able to make this commitment. Thank you to everyone who contributed even just $1 because it truly made the difference.” said Saglibene. 

  • by NORML September 16, 2019

    Last week, NORML leaders and activists from across North America headed to our nation’s capital for the annual NORML Conference and Congressional Lobby Day. All we can say is, “WOW!” We are simply blown away by the passion, leadership, and knowledge attendees and speakers brought to DC.

    SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th – NORML Leadership Summit

     
    We kicked things off on Sunday with the Leadership Summit, where attendees earned their NORML Leadership Certifications. After a full day of learning, we headed to the welcome reception to celebrate with old friends and new, and to honor those outstanding contributions to advancing marijuana law reform. Virginia NORML took home Chapter of the Year, Madisen Saglibene and Mary Kruger received Activist of the Year, and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Maryland State’s Attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby earned Vanguard Awards. What a night!
     
     
     
     

    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th – NORML Conference

     
    Monday morning we dove back into another full day of expert speakers and panel discussions. Dr. John Hudak of the Brookings Institution shared key insights on federal policy and the implications of the 2018 Farm Bill. Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine stopped by and delighted the audience with an impromptu performance and to give the Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award to recipient Bernadine Dohrn. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden delivered a powerful keynote, energizing the crowd for Lobby Day.

     
     
     
     
     
     

    TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th – NORML Lobby Day

     
    Tuesday morning, after hearing remarks from U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Tulsi Gabbard, dozens of NORML members flooded Capitol Hill attending over 170 meetings to advocate for the end of federal marijuana prohibition. Their message was clear: Americans do not support this failed policy and Congress must act now.
     

    These tireless advocates were there fighting for your rights, not the industry or special interests. Because of NORML’s strong grassroots support, we were able to send more people than ever to Capitol Hill this year. And, we won’t stop until marijuana is legal across this great nation.

    Give today and stand in solidarity with those who traveled to Washington, DC to fight for freedom!

    It is only thanks to all of your support that we are able to continue to put on events like this and advocate for legalization at the state level and for ending federal prohibition here in DC.

    Together, we’ll keep pushing, we’ll keep winning, and we’ll legalize America.

     

  • by Jax Finkel, Texas NORML Executive Director

    This year the Texas delegation at the 2019 NORML Conference and Lobby Day grew exponentially! We had a group of seven advocates that made the trip up to Washington, DC. Here is how our visit went:

    We started off the activities on Sunday by participating in the Leadership Certification where we learned from staff about best practices. Our Executive Director, Jax Finkel, participated as a training facilitator on the modules regarding “Volunteer Engagement and Advocacy Training”, “Strategies for a Successful Lobby Day”, and “Taking Local Action”. The certification was helpful for attendees who wanted to learn how to grow and expand their tools for reform.

    Monday was a full day of content at the 2019 NORML Conference where we learned from industry leaders, chapters from across the states, including Canada, Senator Don Wyden (D-OR) and Dr John Hudak. There was an awards ceremony with a live, original song played by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and closing remarks from NORML founder, Keith Stroup.

    Tuesday was a packed day of lobbying. Our team visited with eleven offices regarding the Texas hemp program, the Texas Compassionate Use Program and penalty reduction (See our handout). Team members also had printed copies of their personal stories to share. We engaged with legislators and staff on how they could have an impact at the federal level. It was a very different experience from 2017 and we were able to obtain feedback that we can work with. We will be providing additional resources to the offices.

    Donate to support our work!

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 20, 2019

    A coalition of activist groups, including Arizona NORML, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the state chapter of the ACLU, have filed language with the Secretary of State seeking to legalize the adult use and dispensing of cannabis.

    The Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which was drafted with input from Arizona NORML State Director Michael Weisser, permits those age 21 and over to legally possess, purchase, and grow personal use amounts of cannabis and/or cannabis-infused products. The proposed measure also allows those with marijuana convictions to petition the court for an expungement of their records, among other legal and regulatory changes.

    “Since the failure of 2016 another 30,000 Arizonans have been arrested for cannabis possession,” Weisser acknowledged. “I committed myself and Arizona NORML to making ourselves as central as possible to any 2020 campaign to make sure our values were protected.”

    A 2016 statewide initiative effort in Arizona failed by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent.

    Advocates must collect 237,645 valid signatures from voters by July 2, 2020 in order to place the Smart and Safe Arizona Act on the November 2020 ballot.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. Follow NORML on FacebookInstagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML August 13, 2019

    Las Vegas NORML has once again found themselves busy with many types of advocacy for patient and consumer rights, both statewide and federally. Following a rapidly successful Nevada legislative session where the historic AB 132 and AB 192 were passed, Las Vegas NORML has kept the legislative momentum moving. Seeing the sheer willpower of the advocates and people themselves to become politically involved and speaking with their representatives directly, the local NORML chapter has been collecting signatures for a significantly more monumental federal bill that could result in drastic criminal justice reform and further legalization and access to financial services for legal cannabis businesses.   

    Introduced by New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler and California Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris, The MORE Act (Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act) would directly address and provide a remedy to the many troubles and difficulties still associated with cannabis, everything short of stopping Taco Bell from sounding appetizing. 

    For starters, cannabis would be decriminalized on the federal level and therefore removed from the entirety of the Controlled Substances Act. Furthermore, those convicted of cannabis charges on the federal level could apply for expungement of records and apply for re-sentencing if needed. For those who desire to work in the industry, yet have a federal felony record, and are therefore unable to in many states due to felonies being instantly prohibited, this reform may allow that desire to become a reality.  

    Any issues related to receiving public benefits due to cannabis usage will be stopped and a five percent federal tax will be implemented, the revenue of which will be directed to a program called the “Opportunity Trust Fund”. This fund would establish financial services such as grants and loans to “socially and economically-disadvantaged” communities most affected by the life-wrecking failures of the War on Drugs.

    Last Saturday at NuLeaf, Las Vegas NORML collected dozens of signatures from consumers who support such a comprehensively reformative bill. With the consumer’s information, the team will hand-deliver the pre-written letters of support to their respective representative in both Congress and the Senate during our trip to Washington, DC, and show irrefutable evidence of this bill’s popularity and need.

    Our packed August meeting went excellently and we were so thrilled with the number of fresh faces we got to see. Being able to hear Representative Neal and McCurdy’s testimonies about how they championed for the need for AB 132 and 192 spoke volumes to advocates, and Ashley Ciliberti of MA Analytics showed the absolute importance and interest in cannabis lab testing. Countless more signatures were collected in support of the MORE Act, and a good amount of funds were raised for Las Vegas NORML’s Washington DC national convention and lobbying efforts.

    “Our volunteers look forward to our annual trip to DC each year because it provides the one-on-one opportunity to interact with policy makers.” said Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene. “Traveling to the nation’s capital for these meetings sends a strong message to our leaders that constituents care about these developing cannabis policies.”

    Learn more at www.lvnorml.org
    Contributions being accepted at paypal.me/lasvegasnorml
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