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Community Organizing

  • by Tyler McFadden, NORML NE Political Associate February 20, 2019

    In New Jersey, there has been a great deal of progress in the last few years. Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature, ranging from legalization to expungement, and the fight for freedom has never been more widely supported than now. New Jersey residents overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization; in a recent poll conducted by Monmouth University,  62 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing the responsible adult-use of marijuana, and several members of the New Jersey State Legislature are finally listening to the will of the people and pushing for meaningful marijuana reform. However, marijuana reform has stalled in the past few months. It is urgent that these measures get to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

    There are three major reform bills in the New Jersey State Legislature during the current legislative session.

    • S. 2318 would allow for expedited expungement of records for those previously convicted of a marijuana crime upon passage of decriminalization or legalization measures in the state of New Jersey, as long as those past violations are no longer considered a crime under state law. It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3/22/2018 and is still stuck in committee. The passage of this bill is incredibly important; legalization alone does not provide a clear roadmap for expungement and the millions of people whose lives have been altered by prior marijuana-related convictions may still be left with the stain of those convictions even after legalization is a reality in New Jersey. For more information on this bill (and similar measure S. 3205) and to send a message to your state lawmaker in urgent support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 2703 and A. 4497 would legalize marijuana for personal adult-use in the state of New Jersey and provides expungement relief for people with certain past marijuana offenses. The bill was voted out of committee on 11/26/2018 and is now on its second floor reading and waiting for a scheduled vote. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.
    • Companion bills S. 10 and A. 10 would expand patients’ access to medical cannabis through several means. It would allow doctors the discretion to recommend medical cannabis to any patient they believe with benefit, phases out sales taxes on medical cannabis, and establishes additional legal protections for patients and caregivers. It also allows for additional growers and providers and expands on the amount of cannabis a patient may legally purchase and possess. S. 10 is in the amending stage as of 1/31/2019, and A. 10 most recently passed the Assembly Floor on 1/31/2019. For more information on this bill and to send a message to your state Senator or state lawmaker in support of this legislation, click here.

    Send a general letter in support of sensible marijuana reform in New Jersey NOW.

  • by NORML January 31, 2019

    Nearly 10 years after opening the first cannabis cafe in the United States, Oregon NORML (ornorml.org) executive director Madeline Martinez is appealing directly to legislators in Salem to pass a bill sponsored by Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) that would finally legalize her trademark business, The World Famous Cannabis Cafe. Martinez played a crucial role in organizing local cannabis advocates to bring about Frederick’s legislation, Senate Bill 639.

    Martinez says this isn’t just an issue of dysfunctional laws that allow adults living or visiting Oregon to purchase cannabis but not legally consume it, it is an issue of discrimination and equal rights.

    “This is about equal rights because whenever you pick a certain group and treat them differently that is discrimination. Medical marijuana patients, renters, the poor, people of color and women are often the least likely to not have a safe legal space to consume legally purchased or possessed cannabis,” said Martinez.

    Martinez points out that taking direct actions like opening a private social consumption space before public consumption spaces are legal to push the issue into the mainstream discussion and bring into question unjust laws is something that is much easier for white men, but dangerous territory to cross into for a woman of color. As a former corrections officer, Martinez says she knows how the law works, is friendly to law enforcement and firm that actions like hers are what propel the change of bad laws and make the cannabis space more welcoming to marginalized groups.

    “You have to be bold, I never asked anyone for permission,” says Martinez. “When you don’t like the laws, you change them. All the gains in movements of social justice are made by people breaking bad laws. I have been called the ‘Rosa Parks of Cannabis’.”

    S.B. 639 is currently awaiting assignment into a Senate committee. If passed it would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms (similar to wine) and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences (like hotels).

    A similar bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, H.B. 2233. The fundamental difference between the two pieces of legislation is that while S.B. 639 creates a legalized framework for indoor smoking and vaping, H.B. 2233 does not. Martinez says this approach further marginalizes the poor, who are disproportionately punished for public consumption.

    “In Oregon, due to the Indoor Clean Air Act, cannabis consumers must find a place outside in the shadows and elements, which is unsafe and has become a social justice issue. Cannabis consumers should be treated with dignity and respect. We are deserving of safe, regulated spaces to consume out of public view. Only S.B. 639 would accomplish this goal,” Martinez concludes.

    About Oregon NORML & Women’s Alliance
    The mission of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is to further the social justice goals of the marijuana legalization movement post-legalization. Cannabis is legal but still not “normal” in our society; Oregon patients and recreational consumers still risk housing and employment discrimination and loss of custody of their children for choosing to use cannabis legally and there are not safe legal public spaces for social consumption. Oregon NORML believes that although it is legal statewide, conflicts with federal law still threaten the liberties of Oregonian cannabis users. For more information visit:  http://ornorml.org/.

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 24, 2019

    With Colorado lawmakers convening for their seventh legislative session since voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 64, which ended the prohibition of marijuana in 2012, marijuana law reform advocates from several organizations coordinated a citizen lobby day to push for workplace drug testing reforms, social consumption, parental protections and expanding access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

    During a recent interview with the Westword, Ashley Weber, executive director of Colorado NORML shared a few tips for marijuana law reform advocates who want to get involved in the legislative process: “It’s about getting to know your representatives, and writing them daily if something’s important. Make appointments, become an acquaintance with them.”

    Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. Sixty-six percent of US adults believe that “the use of marijuana should be made legal,” according to national survey data compiled by the Gallup. The percentage is the highest ever reported by Gallup, which has been tracking Americans’ views on the subject of marijuana legalization since 1969.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Dispel the myths with the NORML Fact Sheets. For more information follow Colorado NORML on Facebook, Twitter, and visit their website!

     

  • by Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Director January 8, 2019

    Since the passage of Proposition 1, officially known as the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act, which legalized the sale, possession, consumption and cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and up last November, members of Michigan NORML have encountered a new challenge: municipal opt-out. Similar to other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana like Colorado, California and Oregon, it’s up to municipal governments in Michigan to decide if legal marijuana businesses can operate within their communities.

    To date, more than 80 municipalities in Michigan have imposed moratoriums or outright bans on the sale of adult-use marijuana. In some cases, like with the city of Troy where residents opposed Proposition 1, it’s due to a lack of support for legal marijuana. In other cities, municipal governments are simply waiting until they have a better understanding of how the new law will be implemented by state lawmakers before exploring rules and regulations for local licensing.

    “I’m confident that many municipalities will opt-in after the State promulgates administrative rules and sample ordinance amendments are made available to municipal attorneys,” said Brad Forrester, Board Member of Michigan NORML. “Some of the municipal officials I’ve spoken with have expressed an interest, but they don’t really understand exactly how the process works and they said they’re awaiting guidance from State officials.”

    Considering many who supported Proposition 1 believed passage of the new law was going to eliminate underground marijuana sales by providing access to a legal and regulated alternative, the decision by municipal governments to opt-out of the sale of adult-use marijuana appears to undermine the intent of the initiative and expectations of voters. We’re at a tipping point in America with regard to public support for ending marijuana prohibition, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially at the local level.

    Marijuana policy should be evidence based. Help dispel the myths and misinformation with NORML’s Fact Sheets! Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

     

  • by Nevada NORML January 2, 2019

    With a new year on the horizon, members of Nevada and Las Vegas NORML wanted to take time to shine light on 18 of our most memorable moments from 2018. (It was hard to choose just 18!)

    January 2018: Protested Jeff Sessions

    We certainly didn’t expect the opportunity to protest Jeff Sessions alongside Congresswoman Dina Titus and State Senators Aaron Ford & Tick Segerblom at the Apothecary Shoppe Dispensary with every news outlet present, but it happened! We loved the chance to stand up for the State of Nevada and to be able to show our community that we are a strong voice of the people!

    February 2018: Dr. Dabber became a sponsor

    Yeah, that freaking happened! It was such an honor to have a company like Dr. Dabber, that we all know and respect, believe in our work and sponsor us! Together, we were able to provide record sealing services and great education throughout Las Vegas. They were even cool enough to offer hella deals to NORML members!

    January – March 2018: Partnering with Harrison House

    Throughout the earlier part of 2018, we had the great pleasure of volunteering for Harrison House, which was the 1st African American Guest House in Las Vegas during a very segregated time. In learning about Las Vegas’ history from a perspective that isn’t often discussed, we got a firm grasp on how marijuana has undisputedly been a tool used for oppression. This only reaffirmed that social justice needs to be a priority when discussing marijuana policy in this community. We participated in gardening and yard clean up at Harrison House, held a Black History month panel together, and helped with a Mardi Gras neighborhood celebration.

    April 2018: “Setting the Record Straight” Program

    Instead of hosting a 420 bash this past April, we decided to focus on having community impact through restorative justice. Finding lawyers like Garrett Ogata and Nick Wooldridge to refer prior marijuana conviction victims to, was invaluable! We created a dope set of resources to give to people interested in sealing their record and held an educational seminar educating them on the steps. We will continue to provide education on record sealing in Nevada throughout 2019 and help clients find financial assistance to do so when qualified!

    May 2018: Primary Voting Rally

    The 2018 midterms were NO JOKE. This was our first year dabbling in the candidacy aspects of things, but quickly learned the value of being an educated voter and focusing on primary elections. We held a press conference with our National NORML Political Director, Justin Strekal, a voter registration event at 7th & Carson in downtown Las Vegas, and even did phone banking to encourage voting in primaries all throughout May. It was amazing to see an increase in younger voters registering!

    June 2018: Collected 79 Candidate Surveys from across Nevada

    Nobody said it was going to be easy, and it definitely wasn’t, but it was really rewarding showing voters statewide how candidates felt on specific marijuana related issues. Because of the hard work from National NORML, we helped produce the Smoke the Vote platform for voters to refer to, and the feedback we got was incredible!

    July 2018: Social Use Venue Advocacy

    The City of Las Vegas began drafting ordinances for social consumption this year, and we were proud to show up and voice our concerns on the record. Although it has still not been remedied, Las Vegas NORML members advocated strongly against 24 hr surveillance fed directly to law enforcement and raised concerns about mixing cannabis with alcohol. This will continue to be an area we advocate for throughout 2019 because of the intersectionality with criminal justice reforms and consumer protections. We hope that with the introduction of social lounges, tourists and residents will both have legal places to consume!

    July 2018: Lobby Day in DC

    Each year, NORML activists from around the nation gather in D.C. to engage their lawmakers in marijuana policy reform. We are proud of the relationships we developed with Congress throughout this time and are confident that we can achieve great things together! D.C. can be an intimidating place, but we are loving the chance to navigate it again in 2019.

    August 2018: Public Meetings at Acres

    Earlier this year, Acres Cannabis Dispensary was kind enough to offer their space in the Underground to Las Vegas NORML and our members! Every first Wednesday of the month, we host a free educational meeting that is open to adults 21 or older.  A huge part of our mission includes providing education to the community, so having this valuable space has been a huge blessing!

    September 2018: Election Education & Voter Reinstatement

    This past election cycle, we focused really hard on not only educating the community, but our board too. We worked really closely with Aaron from Restore Your Vote to learn more about how those with a criminal history can reinstate their right to vote. It’s a very common misconception that if you had a past marijuana conviction, you are ineligible to vote in Nevada, but we found out this is not solely the case. We are truly passionate about being a voice for those who have lost hope and love being able to provide resources to help educate them.

    October 2018: Hung with Keith Stroup & National NORML

    It’s not everyday that the founder of NORML is in your hometown! It was an absolutely memorable experience to have Keith here to help us host a voter rally at the World Famous ‘Cannabition’ Cannabis Museum in downtown Vegas! We even had the pleasure of meeting several other members of the National NORML board, too. We consider it a great privilege that we were able to show them our city and more of our work on a local level!

    October 2018: Pumpkin Bongs at Cheba Hut

    Our cool friends over at Cheba Hut Toasted Subs let us throw down some pumpkin carving for our October Informal with NORML, and we ran with it! Who doesn’t make bongs and steamrollers out of fall vegetables?!

    November 2018: Jeff Sessions is OUT and Cannabis friendly legislators are IN!

    What a relief that Sessions’ is finally gone and we can start to progress Marijuana policy at the federal level. Cannabis friendly Governors and Commissioners are taking over Nevada and the West in general. We have a lot of conversations to have with new office holders, but it’s never been easier now that 66% of Americans support legalizing marijuana!

    November 2018: Herban Expo

    Las Vegas NORML was the education sponsor for the inaugural Herban Expo at the Rio and coordinated over 25 educational presentations and panels over the course of 3 days! It was really impressive to see how much our community came out to listen to the speakers and the engagement it created. Herban Expo will 100% be back in 2019!

    November 2018: 600 letters to Congress

    Yep, you read that right…We collected 600 physical letters to members of Congress with the help of Denver NORML in just one weekend in Las Vegas! We set a goal, and people like you helped us reach it by making a small effort to tell Congress that marijuana reform is important!

    December 2018: “Access for All” Patient Voucher Program

    It’s been truly challenging for us to figure out a way to help patients in the state of Nevada because of regulation often making it impossible to provide medicine to those who need it. We are so eternally grateful that we have finally found local businesses like Sweet Cannabis and The Source to help distribute cannabis to patients who qualify. We look forward to building this program out even more in 2019! Visit lvnorml.org/patients for more info

    And some year-long focuses we are especially proud of:

    Progression and development of media

    We were really fortunate to gain really talented media pros and graphic designers as volunteers this year to help us develop more interesting content. Hella props to friends like Rev from Rocester NORML and Mrs. Rex 420 here in Vegas for helping us design digital content this year! Weed TV, Vegas Cannabis Magazine and Kool Katz Media were also incredible blessings that have helped us astronomically with other media exposure this year!

    Growing our squad

    Grassroots activists are hard to come by these days, but it’s been clear that the 2018 Las Vegas NORML crew is no force to reckon with! The newly organized board, expert advisors, team of awesome volunteers & sponsors have been quickly gaining traction in the community and everyone is having a blast doing it! Las Vegas NORML volunteers are a diverse and passionate group of individuals that have worked tirelessly this past year to develop a positive reputation throughout the community. It is because of community members and new activists involvement that the organization continues to strengthen and grow!

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