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Citizen Lobbyists

  • 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
  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director

    When NORML was founded in 1970, roughly 12% of Americans supported legalizing marijuana. After decades of hard work by thousands of committed activists around the country, we are gradually winning the hearts and minds of a majority of the public today. Currently sixty-five percent of adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where responsible consumers can legally purchase marijuana. But there’s still plenty of work to do.

    With a network of more than 160 affiliate chapters, NORML offers plenty of opportunities to join the fight to end marijuana prohibition. First, you’ll need to become a member of NORML. As a member you’ll be the driving force behind meaningful marijuana law reform efforts on the local, state and federal levels. Regardless of the policy you’re advocating for (e.g., adult-use, patient access, decriminalization etc.) you’ll find an extensive collection of recent studies and fact-based information that will reinforce your position in NORML’s Online Library.

    Second, get involved with a NORML chapter in your community. As an active member of a NORML chapter, you’ll engage in educational outreach, lobby local and state lawmakers, and work within your community to bring awareness to the failings of marijuana prohibition. If there isn’t a NORML chapter in your community, we can work together to organize a new network of NORML activists to support your efforts. Click here to find the NORML chapter nearest you!

    Third, use NORML’s Action Center to contact your members of Congress in support of marijuana law reform efforts. Priority legislation includes: the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act and more! At any given time NORML is monitoring dozens of bills around the country so we’re able to provide our network with legislative updates and relevant fact sheets

    2019 NORML Conference

    Lastly, register for NORML’s 2019 Conference and Lobby Day! You’ll join NORML members from around the country for a three-day event where you’ll learn about effective lobbying strategies, hear the latest scientific and political advancements and meet with Congressional offices to advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition. Get your tickets today!

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets.

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director August 5, 2019

    Every August, members of Congress head home from the swampland of Washington, DC back to their home districts. That can only mean one thing – town hall season is upon us.

    This provides a unique opportunity for constituents to engage face-to-face with their members of Congress and hold them accountable for their actions in Washington. We are so close to ending prohibition and it is imperative that we keep pushing forward toward a sensible marijuana policy. This means showing up and making our voices heard at every opportunity. 

    Can you commit to attending a town hall in your area this month?

    Yes, I will attend the town hall in my area.

    No, I cannot attend the town hall in my area but will contact them now via email.

    Change can only happen when concerned constituents participate in the political process and fight for what’s right. Our movement wouldn’t have made it this far without you, and NORML will keep fighting alongside you every day to end marijuana prohibition.

    Check out our town hall guide that addresses everything you need to know about getting engaged. 

    Thanks for you do!

    P.S. Have you considered coming to Washington, DC to attend the NORML Conference and Lobby Day in September? I sure hope you do! Click here to find out more.

  • by Tanya Thompson, NORML Junior Associate

    Working at NORML is kind of like going on a Tinder date; you have no idea what you’re getting into until it’s much too late. When I landed my job with NORML, I had pretty “high” expectations and, luckily, I was not let down (unlike ALL of my online dating experiences). I guess you could say that NORML was a love match for me… Here’s why– 

    My first big project involved lobbying for the Blumenauer-McClintock-Norton amendment to the House CJS Appropriations Bill. Essentially, the amendment defunds the ability of the Department of Justice to enforce the federal prohibition of marijuana in states where it has been legalized, be it for medical or adult-use. While it doesn’t resolve the federally illegal problem, it does give confidence to those in state-legal marijuana businesses that the Department of Justice won’t seize product, seize money, or make arrests. Currently, state-legal adult-use marijuana businesses are at constant risk of federal prosecution. This looming fear functioned to have a negative effect on marijuana business growth and the appetite for state legislatures to enact reforms. 

    The amendment was suddenly announced to be up for a vote only a few days in advance. Evidently, this is a normal practice on Capitol Hill. We had to work fast to ensure the amendment had broad support in the House. First, the Cannabis Caucus met, which is a group of Congressional members who support marijuana reform. The group planned “whip campaigns” to ensure that all members of Congress are notified of the upcoming vote and keeps a record of how members will vote. Second, NORML contacted hundreds of thousands of its members with an action alert to urge their member of Congress to vote “yes.” Next, NORML teamed with other marijuana advocacy groups to assemble 500 packets that we hand-delivered to every member of the House. Finally, we hit Capitol Hill and the real magic happened.

    The short window of time before votes leaves legislators with very little time to conduct their own research and determine their position. That’s where the staffers (the aides to members of Congress) come in, as they review the proposed amendment then give the member of Congress a briefing and issue a recommendation on how to vote. It is so important to present the amendment to the staffer in a manner that will appeal to their boss so that they have the right talking points (and are motivated, of course) to convince the member of Congress that voting “yes” is the best option. 

    Our spell must have worked because on Thursday, June 20, 2019, the House voted to approve the amendment. Making this not only my first lobbying experience but my first success at doing so! The victory announcement is a moment in my life that I will never forget. The level of pride and excitement I felt is unmatchable. I still can’t believe that I was a part of this historic change. It fuels me to devote myself to moving the legalization ball further across the court and taught me not to be afraid of the unknown- even if the last few Bumble matches were a flop. While I’ve given up online dating, I am now in a committed relationship with marijuana reform.

    With your continued support of NORML, nationwide legalization CAN and WILL happen. Please keep contacting your member of Congress urging them to support marijuana reform because, without your help, none of these marijuana victories would be possible.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director August 1, 2019

     

    Every day NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

    2019 NORML Conference

    NORML Announces Plans for 2019 Conference and Lobby Day 

    “This September, we invite you to join NORML members from across America to learn effective strategies, hear the latest scientific and political advancements, and meet in person with influential members of Congress.”

    Read more from NORML.org!

    Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

    NORML Chapters in the Media

    NORML KC Continues Push to Expand Patient Access 

    “Members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws pushed to reduce the buffer zone to only 300 feet, something Mayor-Elect Quinton Lucas had proposed earlier.”

    Read More from Fox 4 News!

    Follow NORML KC on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Memphis NORML Refocuses Efforts to End Marijuana Prohibition

    “The end goal is always recreational. We believe in responsible use of cannabis, period. For consenting adults over 21, they should have no problem being able to go purchase cannabis.”

    Read more from the Memphis Flyer!

    Follow Memphis NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    NORML Leaders in the Media

    Alan Robinson, Executive Director, Wisconsin NORML

    “The decriminalization and legalization of cannabis is one of the ways this country can undo some of the systematic and intentional racism.”

    Read more from ISTHMUS!

    Follow Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML 

    “They’ll compromise the hell out of anything if it’s in the least controversial.”

    Read more from Riverfront Times!

    Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

    Jamie Kacz, Executive Director, NORML KC

    “We want patients to be able to have access to their medicine so they don’t have to have any unnecessary burden.”

    Read more from KSHB-TV!

    Follow NORML KC on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jamie Spencer, Legal Counsel, Texas NORML 

    “This is good news for everyone in Texas — not only those who want to smoke marijuana, but the other majority of Texans that don’t use marijuana but think it’s ridiculous that it’s still a crime at all.”

    Read more from the Statesman

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jax Finkle, Executive Director, Texas NORML 

    “People are just having a conversation of where should our tax dollars be spent on crimes and clearly low-level offenses, where people aren’t really bothering anyone, have really become not a priority for the general public.”

    Read more from Your Basin

    “HB 3703 will ensure more patients have access to medicine which will have a positive impact on their lives.”

    Read more from the Statesman!

    “Many more patients are still being left behind, however, and will now have to wait until the next legislative session in 2021 for their next opportunity to find relief.”

    Read more from Alice Echo News Journal!

    “This is a real-world test run for what it will be like if we don’t prosecute for marijuana. We’ll see that it’s not worth the resources or testing cost.”

    Read more from The Austin Chronicle

    Follow Texas NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

    “Now, the million dollar question is when will we get more?” Pedini said of the processors. “And that’s really up to Virginians and who they elect to represent them in the General Assembly.”

    Hear more on WCVE!

    “Virginians overwhelmingly want a fine, not a crime, for marijuana possession.”

    Read more from The Washington Post!

    “The Commonwealth now spends over $100M annually enforcing marijuana prohibition, at time when over three quarters of Virginians favor fines not crimes for simple possession and six in ten support legalizing and regulating responsible adult-use.”

    Read more from Weed News!

    “It really comes down to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and the House Courts of Justice Committee. That’s where marijuana reform goes to die.”

    Read more from RVA Magazine

    Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

    Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Rochester NORML

    “It leaves us asking many questions about how the complicated/costly process of expungement is going to be covered and done automatically by the State,”

    Read more from Forbes!

    “If someone has a misdemeanor level drug charge on their record, that has collateral consequences throughout their life.”

    Read more from WHEC TV!

    “Actual decriminalization would be it’s okay to grow the plant, it’s okay to sell the plant, it’s okay to consume the plant in spaces that are designated for consumption. None of that is happening with this bill.”

    Read more from WHEC TV!

    “We know we’re moving in the right direction, and we’re not going away.”

    Read more from City Newspaper!

    Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

    Paul Kirchberg, Executive Director, Connecticut NORML 

    “It’s very liberating here to be among other people in the cannabis industry, to be in a large venue like MassMutual and be able to be free of any prosecution or persecution. We hope Connecticut will follow suit quickly.”

    Read more from West Hartford News!

    Follow Connecticut NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

    Rick Thompson, Board Member, Michigan NORML

    “There remains concern that the initial recreational demand will strip out the supply and cause market disruption.”

    Read more from M Live!

    Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

     

    Legalize marijuana

    For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own! 

    Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!

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