Grassroots politics and citizen activism is spreading like feral hemp along the ditches of Wisconsin these days. As we have come to realize, change happens every day, but it is an evolving process. NORML has allowed me to firmly plant my roots in support of reform in my community. Those roots have now overgrown to other communities. With the collective help of many, hemp cannabis will once again be free along with those who choose to utilize the plant. I am thankful for all the hard work and dedication that other NORML folks have put in over the last 40 years that allows us to perform the actions we do today. Thank you NORML!
Here is an excerpt from the NORML Blog on Feb 24th.
Washington, DC: NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, will celebrate the 40-year anniversary of its founding on Wednesday, March 2, 2011. NORML is the oldest and most respected marijuana law reform organization in the nation, and the only such organization to represent itself as the marijuana consumers’ lobby.
“Over the last four decades, NORML took what was then a nascent marijuana legalization movement in this country, and moved it into the political mainstream.,” NORML founder Keith Stroup said. “Because of NORML’s willingness to challenge marijuana prohibition and to make the case that marijuana consumers are good citizens, not criminals, we are now approaching the tipping point with this issue in America. In the end, we are only incidentally talking about marijuana — we are really talking about personal freedom.”
NORML celebrates this 40th anniversary with an exciting find from its voluminous archive of marijuana-related media: a public service advertisement for the organization recorded in 1976 by reggae legend Peter Tosh. The reintroduction of the Tosh PSA coincides with Sony Music’s April 16 reissue of classic Tosh albums, including ‘Legalize It‘.
“We are excited to partner with the Tosh Family Estate and Sony Music in releasing this historic clip from the man who touched millions of cannabis consumers with anthems like ‘Legalize It’ and ‘Get Up, Stand Up,'” said NORML Outreach Coordinator Russ Belville, host of the organization’s daily webstream / podcast, NORML SHOW LIVE.
NORML SHOW LIVE and the NORML Stash Blog will be featuring more material from the NORML Archives in celebration of the 40th anniversary, leading up to the organization’s 40th annual conference this April 21-23 in Denver, Colorado. The Tosh Family and Sony Music will also be working with NORML for more exciting Peter Tosh releases later this year.
NORML, like Greenpeace, was formed during a time of great political turmoil in the country. Americans were fighting in Vietnam, protests filled the streets, and marijuana and its iconic seven-pointed pot leaf had become symbols of the counterculture. The trouble was – and still is – that tens of thousands of people were being arrested on marijuana charges every year. Jails were crowded with non-violent offenders. Something had to be done. So Stroup made is move.
With the help of Playboy, High Times and other benefactors, NORML hit the ground running. A lawyer, Stroup’s plain-spoken goal was to end the prohibition of marijuana. He assembled a team of lawyers and activists and began attacking the system. The first big victory came in 1973 when Oregon became the first state to decriminalize cannabis. By the end of the decade, 11 more states followed suit. Clearly, NORML was making an impact.
Stroup left NORML under a cloud in 1978 after he outed drug czar Peter Bourne, who’d used cocaine at the NORML Christmas party. This has long been perceived as a setback for the marijuana cause, since the White House under Jimmy Carter was tolerant about pot and appeared to favor decrim.
The ’80s under Ronald Reagan’s Just Say No doctrine were lean years for NORML (and High Times as well). A succession of directors followed Stroup – John Gettman, Kevin Zeese, Don Fiedler, Richard Cowan – who returned to the helm in 1995, a position he held for another decade before passing it on to current director Allen St. Pierre.
Steve closed his article with some important thoughts.
Despite chronic under-funding and competition from similar organizations, NORML remains the most respected and durable marijuana-reform group in the world. With more than 135 chapters and a legal network that spans the globe, NORML has long been an invaluable resource for activists. If you get busted for pot, who are you going to call? NORML. If the media needs a talking head to discuss cannabis, who are they going to contact? NORML. If you’re looking for the latest marijuana news, where are you going to go? Norml.org
In our community and state, we realize that NORML greatly assists us by just being NORML, allowing us to be NORML in the process of our reform activities. I personally urge everyone to not only support the national organization, but seek out your local chapter and donate your time and funds to them also. If you do not have a local chapter, perhaps now is the time to start one?
Be the change you want to see in the world. If not us, who? If not now, when?