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EDUCATION

  • by Josh Kasoff, Nevada NORML March 12, 2020

    In the same vein as our historic start to 2020, the month of February proved to be an equally memorable and important month for the Las Vegas chapter of NORML. Throughout the city, we’ve been making sure that criminal justice advocacy stays at the forefront of the social cannabis community’s mind. From staying up to date on the happenings of the legal adult use industry to the patient and consumer rights that we stand for, we’re going into March with an even stronger, fired up passion and our forever memorable February is to blame. 

    Dana Gentry at February’s meeting

    At our monthly meeting hosted by our generous dispensary/cannabis mini-museum sponsor Acres, members and guests were able to hear from award-winning investigative journalist and longtime Las Vegan media personality Dana Gentry. Most recently, the reporter exposed the many misdeeds of the Department of Taxation throughout a series of articles with the Nevada Current, from blatant examples of nepotism and playing favorites with certain cannabis companies over others to full on corruption within the very regulatory body supposedly put in place to act as an authority figure over this newly legal industry. 

    Continuing from our inaugural meeting in January, the team at Las Vegas NORML has spread across cannabis-related events and locations across Sin City getting the information out about our Smoke The Vote campaign. With methods such as hosting popups at dispensaries and providing knowledge about all the upcoming state and federal elections with plans to helping people get registered to vote at the dispensaries themselves, Las Vegas NORML is ensuring that the democratic voices of cannabis patients, consumers and advocates are heard clear as day and that thorough cannabis reforms are enacted. 

    For the Presidential debate hosted in the heart of Sin City which certainly had a slight focus on issues directly facing Nevadans, Las Vegas NORML hosted a watch party complete with popcorn and snacks in The Cannabis Business Den. The Democratic candidates, many of them considered senior citizens, traded verbal blows and “threw shade” as the Gen Z’ers would say about a certain candidate’s previous errors or scandals like it was a high school trash talking contest. From Elizabeth Warren absolutely eviscerating Michael Bloomberg over non-disclosure agreements he signed in relation to sexual harassment incidents to of course, Joe Biden awkardly touching Pete Buttigieg, the debate was undoubtedly more theatrical than analytical, but everyone’s hilarious banter and reactions to the hijinks of an actual presidential debate made it a great time regardless. 

    Aariel Williams with a handful of panelists

    And as the pinnacle of February and the importance of remembering the history of a culture of America’s society that have contributed to the greater good of our country in an endless amount of ways. For our 3rd Annual Black History Month Summit and Celebration, Las Vegas NORML paired up with the Cannabis Law Society, an organization consisting of UNLV Boyd School of Law students advocating for cannabis and drug sentencing reform founded by our member Aariel Williams. 

    “I’m grateful that we were able to have these conversations,” explained Williams, “because that is how we work towards change. We had a Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter from Golden Gate School of Law attend, and they said it was one of the best cannabis education events they’ve attended.” 

    Hosted in UNLV’s Richard Tam Alumni Center, the summit had a series of panel discussions with successful, well experienced and influential people of color who incorporate cannabis into their lives and professions in a variety of ways. The spectrum of speakers and their subjects of expertise varied greatly, from XXL Freshman-featured musician Dizzy Wright to G Five Cultivation CEO Larry Smith, Director of Black Caucus Nevada Yvette Williams and NORML Board of Directors Member Kyndra Miller Esq. 

    “We began this year with intense momentum and passion for education & reform within the Silver State.” said Executive Director Madisen Saglibene. “I am proud to say that with the Black History Month Summit completed, and Smoke the Vote well underway, it’s obvious we aren’t slowing down. I look forward to what’s in store as we head into this local elections cycle – defining vital seats who will either align with us, or vote against us.”

  • by NORML October 23, 2019

    A super-majority of Americans, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support making marijuana use legal in the United States, according to nationwide polling data compiled by Gallup, first reported by Forbes.

    Sixty-six percent of respondents endorse legalization, a total that is consistent with other recent polls and that is nearly 30 percent higher than 2012 totals — when Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize adult marijuana use. A separate nationwide poll released yesterday by PPRI (the Public Religion Research Institute) similarly reported that two in three Americans support legalizing and regulating adults’ marijuana use.

    Commenting on the poll results, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said: “There is no buyer’s remorse on the part of the American people. In recent years, American’s support for legalization has only grown stronger. At the end of the day, every age demographic below 65, representing the overwhelming majority of the taxpaying public, would rather their dollars be spent to regulate cannabis, not incarcerate its consumers.”

  • by NORML August 29, 2019

    Remarks made today by the United States Surgeon General highlighting “the importance of protecting our nation from the health risks of marijuana use in adolescents and during pregnancy” fail to acknowledge the role that a regulated market can play in mitigating the use of cannabis by potentially high-risk populations.

    States NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri: “It has long been acknowledged that cannabis is a mood-altering substance with some risk potential. In fact, it is precisely because marijuana use may pose potential risks to certain consumers — for example, adolescents or people with a family history of psychiatric illness — that NORML believes that lawmakers should regulate it accordingly.

    “These regulations should include age restrictions, prohibitions on the unlicensed commercial production or retail sale of the plant and rational limits with regard to product marketing.”

    He concludes, “A pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults but restricts and discourages its use among young people — coupled with a legal environment that fosters open, honest dialogue between parents and children about marijuana’s effects — best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse.”

    Specifically, federal and state data finds that teen cannabis use has declined in past years – during the same time that many states have legalized and regulated the use of cannabis by adults. According to an August 2019 federal report, past-year marijuana use by those ages 12 to 17 has fallen consistently since 2002, from 15.8 percent to 12.5 percent. Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington became the first states to regulate adult-use access, past-year youth use has fallen eight percent.

    Separate evaluations of marijuana use patterns specifically in cannabis legalization states similarly show little if any change in cannabis use or access by teenagers. In fact, data published online in JAMA Pediatrics in July reported that states with “recreational marijuana laws were associated with an eight percent decrease in the odds of marijuana use and a nine percent decrease in the odds of frequent marijuana use” among teens.

    Added Altieri, “Our current model of federal prohibition represents the utter lack of control over any aspect of marijuana or the marijuana market,” he said. “The Surgeon General’s time would be better spent advocating for a legally and tightly regulated cannabis market – one in which we educate Americans about the potential harms and benefits of cannabis through evidence-based public education campaigns – rather than through fear-mongering.”

    For more information on the public health and safety of cannabis, please see NORML’s fact-sheets here.

  • by Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Roc NORML; Director, NY NORML May 24, 2019

    Rochester-based organizations and community groups today released a new report that comprehensively outlines continued racial disparities in marijuana enforcement in the City of Rochester and Monroe County.

    According to the report, which is based on data from the state Division of Criminal Justice Services from 2010 to 2018, the vast majority of people arrested for low-level marijuana possession in the City of Rochester were Black (81%) — despite the fact that there are comparable numbers of Black and white residents living in Rochester and government reports consistently show that black and white people consume marijuana at similar rates.

    The new report also documents how Monroe County has one of the highest arrest rates for low-level marijuana-related offenses in New York State: Monroe ranks fifth-highest by county for low-level marijuana possession (outside of NYC). For every one white person arrested for low-level marijuana possession in Monroe County, there are four Black people arrested for that charge, despite white people comprising the majority population in the county and comparable rates of use.

    This report comes as Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and the Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger are working to pass the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.1527/A.1617) this year, which would include legalizing and regulating cannabis for adult-use in New York, centered in justice and equity for victims of the War on Drugs.

    This legislation has the potential to boost New York State’s economy by potentially creating a $1.7 to $3.5 billion industry that focuses on local businesses and creates total employment between 30,700 and 43,400 employees. At the same time, the bill would redirect tax revenue from a legal industry towards various programs that redress harms from the War on Drugs, while also increasing and improving public education and treatment programs geared towards responsible use, reducing overdoses, and saving lives.

    Leading Rochester organizations Roc NORML, Metro Justice, and VOCAL-NY have been working in Rochester and Albany to raise the extreme racial disparities in marijuana policing and organizing to change local policies, including working with the Rochester City Council, which released a letter in support of marijuana legalization and justice and urged state representatives to take action.

    The leaders say it’s time to stop the ineffective and unjust enforcement of marijuana prohibition and to bring an end once and for all to the ongoing harms that marijuana prohibition causes families – while also reinvesting tax revenue in the communities that have been most harmed.

    Advocates point to how in the face of extreme racial disparities in arrests, the mayors of NYC and Buffalo chose to end or de-prioritize low-level marijuana possession related arrests. District Attorneys in NYC, Syracuse, Albany, Buffalo, and Westchester, and more have said they should stop prosecuting these offenses.

    Unfortunately, Mayor Warren of Rochester and District Attorney Doorley of Monroe County haven’t taken any of these actions. The City of Rochester police department is still arresting for low-level marijuana possession, and the District Attorney’s office is still prosecuting for these offenses. These numbers speak for themselves and with Rochester being the third largest city in New York, it’s time we join the rest of the state in advancing marijuana justice.

    The Rochester advocacy groups are hosting a series of community education and outreach events to mobilize support for immediately passing the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (S.1527/A.1617), known as MRTA, this legislative session in Albany.

    The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will better serve community well-being, equity, justice, and public health across New York by:

    • Regulating cannabis and creating a system to tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol for adults over the age of 21.
    • Clearing prior cannabis-related criminal records and addressing additional devastating impacts of marijuana criminalization in the fields of immigration, family law, housing, and employment.
    • Protecting youth – particularly young people of color, who continue to be disproportionately impacted – by both eliminating a common reason for introduction to the criminal justice system and preventing access to marijuana through a regulated market.
    • Safeguarding safety and public health through advertising restrictions, stringent quality control, harm reduction options, and public education.
    • Creating tax revenue that will be directed to repairing the harm caused by the war on drugs, school-based prevention efforts, job training, and youth development programming.
    • Establishing a licensing structure designed to create a favorable environment for small businesses and family-scale farmers, which creates space for entrepreneurial efforts to be launched in small towns and rural areas, as well as disproportionately impacted communities across the state.

    Despite New York’s Marihuana Reform Act of 1977 that decriminalized low-level marijuana possession, there have been more than 800,000 arrests made in the last 20 years in the state.

    Statewide in 2018, Black and Latinx people comprised of 81.3% of all low-level marijuana arrests, despite making up 34.5% of the state’s population. The impact of criminal convictions on educational, employment, and other life opportunities – especially for young people, who comprise nearly two-thirds of all low-level marijuana arrests, despite being only one-third of the state population — can be severe, even for minor marijuana offenses.

    Racial disparities in marijuana enforcement continue to be extreme across the state as well. In 2017, in the main upstate cities, black people were 12.1 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people; Latino people were 6.4 times more likely. In the rest of the state in 2017 (outside of NYC and the main Upstate cities), black people were 11.2 times more likely to be arrested while Latino people were 5.2 times more likely. Additionally, in upstate cities the number of marijuana arrests resulting in a jail sentence increased from 9.8 percent to 17.8 percent in 2016.

    The only way to begin to unravel this legacy of disparate impact is to move marijuana into a fully regulated market at the state level.

    If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Mary Kruger at 585-469-6731, or email at rocnorml@rocnorml.org.

  • 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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