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Election

  • 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!

  • by Justin See, Board Member, Indiana NORML November 15, 2018

    On Tuesday, November 6th, Indiana voters took their final opportunity to vote in the 2018 midterm election. While Indiana did not have the opportunity to vote directly on cannabis propositions as in other states, there were numerous candidates on the ballot supportive of reforming our cannabis laws. Many of them did not win their races, but this election was not without wins for cannabis reform in Indiana. Here are some highlights and some races we’re still watching:

    JD Ford: State Senate District 29

    During the 2018 session, state senator Mike Delph (R) voted against legalizing CBD products in Indiana, an issue widely supported by Hoosiers. JD Ford (D), on the other hand, actively campaigned on the issue of cannabis. “I believe that it is time to work with law enforcement agencies, healthcare groups, and other stakeholders to legalize medical cannabis and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis,” Ford told us in response to one of our candidate survey questions. Delph responded to the same question about decriminalization by stating that, “This is not our most pressing area of criminal law. From a practical standpoint, we really need the federal government to address its position before we can meaningfully do so at the state level.”

    JD Ford won his race and will be a new voice for reforming our cannabis laws in the Indiana Senate, where the sentiment on cannabis legislation is thought to be more even more hostile than in the House.

    Chris Campbell: Indiana House District 26

    Chris Campbell (D) ran against incumbent state representative Sally Siegriest (R), and won with 57% of the vote. In response to our candidate survey, Campbell said she was supportive of implementing a medical cannabis program in Indiana, decriminalizing cannabis, and allowing retail sales of cannabis for personal use.

    Chris Chyung: Indiana House District 15

    In house district 15, Chris Chyung (D) won his race against incumbent Harold Slager (R). “The federal government also needs to set clear guidelines on the legality of cannabis,” Chyung said in response to a question posed by NWI Times about issues that required action from the federal government, “Colorado has benefited to the tune of over half a billion dollars in revenue alone, and more in jobs growth and economic development. I will never allow Indiana to leave that kind of potential money on the table.”

    Other races with supportive candidates remain to be called. Due to widespread issues at polling locations, results for Indiana’s 4th house district might not be available until November 16th, although candidate Frank Szczepanski (D) supports implementing a medical program, decriminalization, and the legalization of retail sales for personal use.

    Read more here: https://www.inorml.org/election-highlights/

    For more information about marijuana law reform efforts in Indiana, follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel November 6, 2018

    The test should be, “Is it better than Prohibition.” Does the proposal stop the arrest of smokers and establish a legal market where consumers can obtain their marijuana?

    I want to take the opportunity today to personally thank you for being a marijuana policy reform supporter. Whether you are new to the cause or an old hand like myself, we at NORML both appreciate and rely upon your continued support.

    When I founded NORML in late 1970, only 12% of the country supported legalizing marijuana; 88% were opposed to our goals. After decades of hard work by tens-of-thousands of committed supporters like you, together we have gradually won the hearts and minds of a majority of the public. Today, some two out of three adults nationwide support ending marijuana prohibition and establishing a regulated market where consumers can obtain marijuana in a safe and secure setting.

    Election Day is a time when we can make our collective voices heard. That is why I am personally asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that your friends and neighbors can be as informed as you are when they go to cast their ballot.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    We are certainly proud of the enormous progress we have made toward ending marijuana prohibition nationwide, and we are especially proud of the gains we have made over the last several years. Today, over 30 states have legalized the medical use of marijuana; and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational adult use of marijuana.

    Our friendly neighbors to the North have also been busy. Canada has become the second nation to explicitly legalize the social use, possession, cultivation, and retail production and sale of marijuana. It’s important to note that Prime Minister Trudeau was not always in favor of legalization, in fact, for many years he opposed it. That was until he met face-to-face with NORML Canada advocates Kelly Coulter and Andrea Matrosovs in 2012. They presented Trudeau with pro-legalization arguments that he’s still using today as prime minister. That is why we must all continue to raise our voices and advocate for change.

    Frankly, I have been smoking marijuana for more than 50 years, beginning when I was a first-year law student at Georgetown Law School in 1965. I enjoy my marijuana when I am relaxing in the evening, just like millions of other Americans enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at the end of their workday. But this issue is only incidentally about marijuana; it is really about personal freedom.

    Most Americans don’t want the government intruding into our homes in order to learn what books we read, what music we listen to, or how we conduct ourselves in the privacy of our bedroom. Neither does the government have the right to know whether we consume marijuana or drink alcohol.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the responsible use of marijuana by adults. It  is time for our lawmakers to recognize this fact and to act to make this policy a reality. That is why I am asking you to share NORML’s voter guide so that this election day we can elect reform-minded candidates up and down the ballot.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    With your dedication, diligence, and continued support, together we will win to fight for personal freedom.

    Regards,

    Keith Stroup, Esq.
    NORML Founder and Legal Counsel

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 5, 2018

    Texas Republican and ardent marijuana prohibitionist Pete Sessions trails by four points in his re-election bid, according to polling data released yesterday. According to the survey results, Sessions is behind Democratic challenger Colin Allred by a margin of 46 percent to 42 percent in the race for Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

    As a member of Congress, Sessions has been one of the nation’s most vocal and powerful forces against our efforts to enact sensible marijuana policy reforms. Speaking publicly on the issue earlier this year, Sessions opined: “Marijuana is an addictive product, and the merchants of addiction make it that way. They make it to where our people, our young people, become addicted to marijuana and keep going.”

    As I wrote last month in my ‘Marijuana and the midterms” op-ed in The Hill, “Pete Sessions has used his position as Chairman of the House Rules Committee to block House floor members from voting on over three-dozen marijuana-related amendments during his leadership tenure.” His actions have almost single-handedly killed a number of popular, bipartisan-led reforms — such as facilitating medical cannabis access to military veterans and amending federal banking laws so that licensed marijuana businesses are treated like other legal industries.

    Representative Sessions received an ‘F’ grade in NORML’s latest Congressional Scorecard. By contrast, his Democratic challenger received a B+ grade as a result of his stated support for cannabis decriminalization and medical marijuana access.

    Texas’ 32nd Congressional District represents the city of Garland and the northeastern section of Dallas.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director

    Marijuana legalization is a prominent and pivotal issue in the 2018 elections, with thousands of local, state, and federal candidates around the country advocating for an end to our decades-long, failed policy of prohibition.

    Our issue is no longer a regional one confined to deep blue states on the West Coast or the Northeast. Advocating for comment sense marijuana policy reform has gone nationwide. Voters increasingly agree with us that the battle for legalization goes hand-in-hand with our battle for improved civil liberties, personal freedom, racial justice, and sound economics.

    We are winning this fight, but that is no reason to relent in our struggle. We must double down and end this war on cannabis and those who consume it once and for all.

    That is why we built Smoke the Vote – the most comprehensive listing of state and federal candidates’ positions on marijuana reform ever created.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    When I first came to NORML as the Executive Director, our movement was in a precarious position. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was gearing up his rhetoric for a war on marijuana, and we seemed destined for a head-on collision between states and the Department of Justice. A few months later, Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo that provided cover to states with legalization, thus providing an opening for the federal government to once again begin to prosecute state legal marijuana patients or businesses.

    But how quickly the tides can change. Unfortunately for Sessions, his outspoken opposition and not so veiled threats have largely blown back in his face. While Jeff Sessions may live like it’s 1956, the rest of us are in 2018. Sixty-eight percent of American voters are on our side and believe we need to end our failed racist prohibition on cannabis and legalize it for adult use.

    We have won the hearts and minds of the people. Americans from all political persuasions, demographics, and regions of the country are saying “enough is enough, we will not go back.”

    We will not continue to lock up over 650,000 of our fellow citizens each year for the simple possession of a plant that is objectively safer than currently legal alcohol and tobacco. We will not put patients into handcuffs for using cannabis to alleviate their suffering. We will not allow jackbooted thugs to continue to knock down doors in communities of color and tear apart families. We will not continue to fuel a school to prison pipeline that is destroying the future of countless promising students. We will not continue to allow money to flow to drug cartels when it can be going to state tax coffers to fund new school construction and important social programs.

    Prohibitionists, with their flat earth mentality, are attempting to push back against the inevitable. They continue to flail against the forward march of progress — endlessly defending a policy will go down in history books as a national embarrassment, much like alcohol prohibition or Jim Crow laws. Their names will be listed as ignorant enablers of racist and anti-American policies — a footnote to be laughed at in disbelief. That is, if they are remembered at all.

    But this victory is only possible if the American marijuana majority votes!

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    In response to prohibitionists’ last-ditch efforts to slow our momentum, they have inadvertently converted new vocal supporters to our cause. And they have shaken many of our elected officials out of their state of complacency. Former ravenous drug warriors like Senator Schumer and Senator Feinstein now subscribe to the gospel of comprehensive reform. Republican lawmakers, once largely unified in their opposition, are now taking up leadership roles in the fight for federal marijuana reform. Representative David Joyce of Ohio and Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado have become strong and necessary allies. Our fight is now mainstream and bipartisan, as we always knew it should be.

    With the wind at our backs, we must redouble our efforts. 2018 is truly shaping up to be the Marijuana Midterms and we need to make sure all of our supporters are informed and ready to vote. Much still remains at stake.

    With every single member of the House of Representatives up for reelection, as well as pivotal Senate offices, we are in the position to shape the makeup of Congress to our liking. This election will determine who chairs those committees that will be critical in order to move our federal legislation forward. It provides the opportunity to vote out prohibitionists and vote in reformers. Candidates from across this country, with our encouragement, have added support for ending marijuana prohibition to their campaign platforms because we have shown them it is no longer a political liability, but a political opportunity to put oneself on the right side of history. With more Americans running for office than ever before, we can help usher in a new era of federal leadership that truly represent their constituents’ wishes when it comes to marijuana policy.

    And it is not just federal candidates who are embracing cannabis reform, this change also taking place at the state level. While we need reformers in Congress to finally end this prohibition, we also need state legislators and governors to approve and defend our state-level reform efforts. In Colorado’s race for Governor, one of our longest and most ardent supporters, Jared Polis, overwhelmingly won his contested primary with the support of NORML — support he highlighted again and again on the campaign trail. In Pennsylvania, John Fetterman blew away his competition in the race for Lt. Governor. Fetterman is now likely to win on the Democratic ticket with Governor Tom Wolf in November. Fetterman has spoken at numerous NORML events, worked with us to push for change in the Keystone state, and, should he be victorious next week, he will be able to help make decriminalization and legalization a reality.

    In the final run-up to Election Day, we must do everything we can to educate and mobilize voters.

    Click here to share our scorecard on Facebook

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    Together, we have already accomplished so much. When we stand shoulder to shoulder and fight with one voice against these unjust laws, we will cross that final finish line.

    Together, we WILL legalize marijuana nationwide.

    See you at the polls,
    Erik

    Erik Altieri
    NORML Executive Director

     

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