08-17-2011 Meeting Minutes for Northern WI NORML

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Northern Wisconsin NORML

Northern Wisconsin NORML Meeting – Wed August 17, 2011 – Harmony Cafe Fox Valley

We met at 4:20pm for fellowship and the official meeting began at 6pm. 23 people attended the meeting. All new members who joined us found us via the Internet, either via Facebook or CL.

Jay started the meeting out and then Rich spoke. Rich is the contact for the Fox Valley supporters who want to volunteer, protest, lobby, etc. He spent some time discussing the process of changing the law, and the need to communicate with our elected officials and the various aldermen and other elected officials. The city building in Appleton (6TH Floor) gives out booklets with information about all of the different districts and aldermen which are free of charge. If you live somewhere other than Fox Valley / Appleton, feel free to contact Rich or Jay for help getting started in your area – they can help point you in theright direction.

Jay suggested that we make phone calls to our city employees – city clerks, aldemen, mayors, etc – and ask them what their stance is on the topic of medical marijuana, cannabis, and industrial hemp. If they support, try to get them to make an official statement, which can be quoted in the future when speaking to other legislators. We need to have a large diverse group of people calling their legislators, so that they can see that more than just a handful of people support. If they only hear from the same few people over and over, they may not take it as seriously.

Rich spoke about utilizing the public library. If you request that the library order a book, not only do you get to read it, but future library visitors will notice it and be able to read it as well, potentially educating people who may not have otherwise picked the book up. He discussed several books that he has requested to be ordered by several libraries. Requesting that your library order books that contain the truth about marijuana is “Activism on a budget”.

Jay spoke about the three forms that we have been asking people to sign. These signed forms give us the opportunity to meet with several different legislators (when we deliver them) as well as allows us to show that there are many supporters for these 3 bills.

Delaware was the most recent state to enact a medical marijuana law and Jay passed out a handout about this.

We did our drawing for the Pot Book, Wayne won the drawing.

We did a second drawing for an issue of Treating Yourself, Crazy Ray won the drawing.

We did a third drawing for a marijuana lei, Chloe and Travis won the drawing.

Jay gave a brief overview of ways that we might be able to employ a commissioned fundraiser or lobbyist in order to raise awareness.

At the last meeting, we announced a contest – whoever brought the most signed HR 2306 forms back to this meeting would win a free t-shirt. Danielle won the contest with 12 signed forms.

Rich spoke about the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act. He discussed that the cops are addicted to the revenue they get from fining marijuana users. Cannabis users are nonviolent, an easy target, and often, are patients, making an especially easy target. Organizations such as LEAP can be brought to speak with law enforcement officials and other anti-marijuana people.

Jay discussed the timeline of legislation that gets introduced. He gave the following example:

If legislation is introduced on say, Nov 20th, there will be 10-15 days to prepare at best. We need to already have our game plan in place before that time, since we would not have enough time to prepare if we just waited for the legislation to be introduced. Instead, it would be prudent to have doctors, lawyers, LEAP, and other professionals on hand who are willing to testify. If you know any high level officials, doctors, law enforcement, or other officials or professionals who support the cause, please ask them to support us vocally by coming to our meetings, making statements, testifying, signing petitions, or whatever they are comfortable with.

Rich discussed his decriminalization efforts for Appleton and the research that he has been doing needs to be done before he meets with his elected officials. Law Enforcement does not want to be seen as “soft on crime” and this is a common argument. Not only do we want to regulate cannabis, we want to make it safer, more effective. People need to be aware that cannabis comes in many different varieties, and have different effects, different smells, different appearances… marijuana is just as diverse as people are. He also discussed the different products that can be made from hemp, as well as the different sources of those hemp products. Wisconsin used to be the number 1 producer of Hemp. We need to get that status back.

Jay discussed the possibiilty of a Medical bill being introduced again. Please call your legislators and ask them to research and support the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act and any other legislation that may be introduced. We are also looking at the possibility of a Ben Masel Industrial Hemp bill. We need to call our legislators and ask about both – ask if they have heard of these bills, ask how they feel about those bills, ask if they would support the bills. Get them thinking about the issues and get these names (Jacki Rickert and Ben Masel) stuck in their memories…

Rich asks that if you do contact your legislators and they respond to you, please contact Rich or Jay and let them know what their stance was. Rich pointed out that many times, when he has asked a politican their stance on the issues, he gets a positive response. However, when someone else he knows calls, they get a negative response. We need to identify which legislators support our cause, which ones are flip-floppers or liars, and which legislators can be trusted as truthful.

Jay pointed out that if a legislator says that they support, but do not co-sponsor any legislation when it crosses their desk, they should be considered suspect. We need to talk to these legislators and find out what is stopping them from co-sponsoring bills and really supporting the issue.

Rich discussed that many legislators were concerned about the “grow your own” and distribution issues.

Jay pointed out that this is a bipartisan issue – both democrats and republicans have valid reasons for supporting medical marijuana, industrial hemp, and recreational cannabis. He talked about attending listening sessions for your assembly reps and senators. If you check their websites, look in the local papers, watch the local news, or use google to search, you will be able to find out when their listening sessions are. Often, there is only a weeks’s notice or less, so you have to really watch for their listening sessions. We need local people in each city or municipality who can keep us informed about the different listening sessions and events coming up in their area. We need to have activists in each area who we know will go out and attend their listening sessions, etc, in order to bring up the questions of legalization and other related topics. Not only does this get your legislator thinking, but it gets the other constituents who attend the listening sessions thinking…

We discussed MPP, DPA, IDPI, and other organizations who peripherally may offer some kind of support, but that we need to find sources of grants, income, help, etc. Organizations like MPP do

not offer us any money or other direct support, but when there is legislation pending, they always send professional speakers to testify and we are grateful for that help. Jason Eggers suggested an organization through his work which matches donations dollar for dollar that he would like to approach about supporting our chapter. He and Jay got into a discussion about possible grants, etc, and the difficulties and possibilities involved in this process.

Jay discussed the National NORML website as a tool for those who want to be active in their communities but who don’t have enough members or resources to create a full blown NORML chapter. There is no reason you can’t still be active even if you can’t create a chapter in your local community.

Jay also discussed what is needed to run a successful organization – team work. We need to discuss the goals of the group, agree on what our goals are and what the best direction for the group will be moving forward, and then outline the steps we need to take to achieve those goals.

We also discussed that people should take initiative on their own and take ownership of projects and events that they would like our organization to be involved in. The chapter leaders can’t be everywhere at once and we have a lot of other areas to cover. We need to find representatives in each city who take ownership and help to grow the organization. The chapter leaders will be available if you get stuck or need help but we need to empower people to participate more than just showing up for 1 meeting a month.

Rich requested that everyone in the Appleton area sign in so he can contact them.

Jay pointed out that the 20% who don’t support marijuana law reform are not our target audience. We need to identify the 80% of people who do support some type of marijuana law reform, educate and mobilize them to help in some way if possible, as that is time better spent. People who are vehemently against legalization will likely not change their mind from 1 conversation, and you can use that time to identify one or more supporters and ask them to help us.

Rich discussed the benefits to our society if we were to treat marijuana as a public health issue rather than a criminal matter. We need to take the patients off of the battlefield.

We took a show of hands to pick the next meeting date. We decided on Tuesday Sept 13th.

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