This week, NORML and regional chapters from DC to Denver are in the nation’s capital for NORML’s national lobby days. NORML, the Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is a grassroots non-profit organization representing the cannabis consumers of America since its founding in 1970.
Prior to the two full calendar days of education, networking, and lobbying – DC High Life organized a reception for local Washingtonians to give a warm welcome to the out-of-towners.
Cannabis talk show radio host, Russ Belville is also covering this week in cannapolitics from DC. He was most recently in Georgia and the Carolinas, following the East Coast Unity Cypher.
It was a great way for cannabis advocates and organizations to meet the people behind the national NORML organization, as chapters retain almost complete autonomy on a day-to-day operational standpoint. Most notable was the speech that evening by NORML Executive Director, Allen St. Pierre. The voice and face of NORML, Allen gave an enthusiastic and humbled speech in front of the crowd. He spoke about legalization efforts and kindly (jokingly?) offered his cannabis to those without. He then kicked off NORML lobby days with a symbolic golden joint, given to him by his local hosts that evening. After remarking that he had never smoked a 24 carat joint before, Allen lit it up and passed it along.
Allen St. Pierre is known for his research on cannabis-related criminal justice reforms and his advocacy for NORML and the NORML Foundation. Allen began his career with NORML in the 90’s, having worked his way up from Communications Director to where he is now. Through interviews with publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, London Times, Economist and dozens of mainstream television news programs, Allen has written, debated, and lectured on a range of issues stemming from cannabis prohibition.
According to the NORML website, The NORML Foundation is a non-profit legal, research and educational organization whose main focus is to work with it’s sister organization (NORML) and other organizations that seek to advance the agenda of marijuana law reform.
NORML lobby days began on Monday with a list of speakers including; Allen St. Pierre, John Hudak of the Brookings Institute, Bruce Barcott of Leafly news and author of Weed The People, as well as the Government Relations staff from the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). The NCIA is a trade organization that represents its paying members, their lobby days were earlier this month and focused on banking and taxing.
While Monday will provide background on the issues, Tuesday will see NORML members interacting with elected officials on the Hill. Expected speakers leading up to members lobbying Congress are: Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Congresswoman Suzan Delbene (D-WA), and Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA).
NCIA lobby days proved fruitful, with at least one member of Congress announcing her support of one of the bills being lobbied. Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) was already a sponsor on the banking issue, but after day one of lobbying, she pledged her support for NCIA’s tax bill, H.R. 1855.
It remains to be seen what progress NORML will make, for now they are focusing on gathering support for the CARERS Act, complete legalization of cannabis, and lifting criminal offenses from any consumption of the plant.