Rick Steves: Let’s Make a Better America Together

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Today, Congress will hold its first hearing on the federal criminalization of marijuana. This is a big day: after patient years of steady gains one state at a time, we’re finally ready for serious marijuana policy reform at the federal level.

NORML has been strong, dogged, and heroic in this civil liberties battle. And now, we’re poised for a breakthrough. To build on our success, it is critical that we help out financially. That’s why, today, I am asking you to stand with me in the fight against the prohibition on pot and empower NORML with a donation.

Last week, on the Fourth of July, as we celebrated our freedom, I kept thinking how it’s high time to end once and for all the racist, counter-productive, and outdated laws that still bring great harm to hundreds of thousands of Americans and deny us a civil liberty we know is ours.

I was just working with NORML and the Cannabis caucus (a growing number of Congresspeople from both parties) on this in DC and we truly are on the verge of a breakthrough. Again, money is power when it comes to this battle and I’m excited to encourage you to help out with this challenge:


Being a good citizen means speaking out against unjust policies that hurt Americans. That’s why, last month, I traveled to Washington, DC to urge members of Congress to support an amendment to prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering in marijuana legalization states. While I was on Capitol Hill, thousands of NORML members were writing emails and making calls to their representatives in favor of this common-sense policy change.

We worked hard. We worked together. And we won! For the first time in history, Congress voted to protect state-legal marijuana programs from federal interference.

With today’s hearing, we are presented our biggest opportunity yet to achieve meaningful and lasting reform at the federal level. We will not end our fight until we finally deschedule marijuana federally and until we end this disastrous prohibition once and for all. To that end, I’m pledging to match all donations to NORML up to $40,000. When we all unite in this struggle, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

Please, chip in and double your impact with my match. Again, for every dollar raised with this campaign, I’ll match it up to $40,000. That means, together, we’ll empower NORML with $80,000 to wage this important fight on our behalf.

There are many reasons to end the prohibition on marijuana. For me, it’s simply civil liberties… freedom. Let’s pave the path forward towards a better and freer America, together. Thanks!

Rick Steves
NORML Board of Directors

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Congress To Hear Testimony Tomorrow Challenging Marijuana Criminalization

Generic 10 July 2019 | 0 Comments

On Wednesday, July 10th at 10am, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security will hear expert testimony challenging the federal government’s failed policy of cannabis prohibition. The hearing, entitled “Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform,” will discuss alternative policy options — including ending cannabis’ longstanding Schedule I criminal status under federal law.

The hearing is indicative of the growing support in Congress for marijuana policy reform and is reflective of the fact that over 60 percent of Americans — including majorities of self-identified Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — now believe that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal and that the federal government ought not to interfere in legal marijuana states.

“For the first time in a generation there will be a candid conversation in the House Judiciary Committee that acknowledges the failures of marijuana prohibition in the United States, how this policy has adversely impacted tens of millions of Americans, and how it must be reformed at the federal level,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “The ongoing classification under federal law of cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance — a categorization that treats it in the same manner as heroin — is intellectually dishonest and has been scientifically debunked. It is high time that Congress address this Flat Earth policy and move forward with a plan that appropriately reflects marijuana’s rapidly changing cultural status in America.”

Hearing Details
Title: Marijuana Laws in America: Racial Justice and the Need for Reform
Time: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 – 10:00am
Place: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515

Today, NORML and other leading national criminal and public policy reform groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, The Immigrants Legal Resource Center, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Center for American Progress, released a joint Statement of Principals highlighting a legislative path forward.

“Since the scheduling of marijuana as a Controlled Substance in 1970, over 20 million Americans have been unjustly arrested or incarcerated,” continued Strekal. “Entire communities have lost generations of citizens to cyclical poverty and incarceration that resulted from the collateral consequences of having a cannabis-related conviction on their record.”

“The ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis is a disproportionate public policy response to personal behavior that is, at worst, a public health matter — not a criminal justice concern,” concluded Strekal.

You can see NORML’s one-pager on the need to remove marijuana from the CSA HERE.

You can read an Op-Ed that was published today in The Hill Newspaper by NORML Political Director Justin Strekal entitled It’s time to end the senseless and cruel policy of cannabis criminalization HERE.

You can read the joint Statement of Principles below.

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Nevada: A Monumental Year for Cannabis Reform

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It’s been nothing short of an incredibly exciting and exhilarating month for Nevada NORML, our advocates and the rights of patients and consumers. While Nevadans will unfortunately have to wait another two years for the fate of public consumption lounges to be decided upon, monumental legislation passed in the 2019 legislative session regardless. 

The Battle Born State made national history with the passing and the subsequent signing by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak of Assembly Bill 132, which would prohibit employers within the state from rejecting an applicant based solely on a positive result for cannabis in a drug test. The bill greatly increases the employment opportunities of both recreational consumers and patients alike, and is undoubtedly a step in the correct progressive direction.

Speaking of the correct progressive direction, Assembly Bill 192 would authorize those who have received low-level, usually misdemeanor cannabis possession charges to apply for expungement. 

Advocates also had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser at Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom’s residence in May, for New Jersey Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Cory Booker, where Senator Booker discussed his very vocal plans to legalize cannabis federally and further amend the criminal justice system, which is more critically broken and flawed. 

The pinnacle of Nevada NORML’s advocacy over the past month consisted of board members’ tour across Northern Nevada. Over the course of three days, advocates visited underserved areas of the state not oftentimes visited by cannabis/criminal justice reform advocates. 

“We were able to visit folks in Tahoe, Reno and Fallon as well as smoke shops, dispensaries and Budtender Fight Club.” said Nevada NORML Director Madisen Saglibene. “We educated them on the policies we helped pass, what didn’t pass, statistics on cannabis, starting a chapter in Northern Nevada and highlighting Old Pal as not only the sponsor for the event, but as a company who supports cultural change.”

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Study: Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations Associated With Self-Reported Declines In Youth Use

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The enactment of laws regulating the use of cannabis by adults is associated with short-term declines in self-reported marijuana use by young people, according to findings published today in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

“Ensuring the safety of our kids is always a top priority,” said NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “And the best way to do that is to regulate cannabis, bring products behind a counter, and phase out the illicit market.”

A team of researchers from Montana State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Colorado, and San Diego State University assessed teen marijuana use rates, as reported by the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, in states that had legalized either the medical or the recreational use of cannabis.

After adjusting for individual- and state-level covariates, authors 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.” By contrast, states with medical cannabis laws only were not associated with any statistical changes in youth use.

They concluded: “Consistent with the results of previous researchers, there was no evidence that the legalization of medical marijuana encourages marijuana use among youth. Moreover, the estimates reported … showed that marijuana use among youth may actually decline after legalization for recreational purposes. This latter result is consistent … with the argument that it is more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana as drug dealers are replaced by licensed dispensaries that require proof of age.”

An abstract of the study, “Association of marijuana laws with teen marijuana use,” appears online here. Additional information is available from the NORML fact-sheet, “Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates,” here.

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NORML Chapter Newsletter – June 2019

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Every day NORML Chapters from around the country invest countless hours in advocating for meaningful marijuana law reforms on the local, state and federal level! Below is a brief rundown of some of their most recent accomplishments.

NORML Announces Plans for 2019 Conference and Lobby Day 

“This September, we invite you to join NORML members from across America to learn effective strategies, hear the latest scientific and political advancements, and meet in person with influential members of Congress.”

Read more from NORML.org and register today

Follow NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

Rochester NORML Publishes Report to Highlight Arrest Rates for Marijuana Offenses

“A local marijuana advocacy group in Rochester, NORML, and other community groups released a report that found Monroe County had the fifth-highest arrest rates for low-level marijuana-related offenses in the state, outside of New York City.”

Read More from 10 WHEC!

Virginia NORML Continues Push to Expand Access Through Education  

“Virginia NORML is trying to make this search easier for patients. In order to register for Virginia’s medical cannabis program, patients must first receive a written certification from a registered physician. They have created a physician’s directory of doctors registered with the board of pharmacy to recommend medical cannabis.”

Read more from News Leader!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

NORML Leaders in the Media

Ashley Weber, Executive Director, Colorado NORML 

“Adding a condition for which a physician could recommend medical marijuana instead of an opioid is a safer pain management tool that will be useful for both our doctors and patients.”

Read more from The Fix

Follow Colorado NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Chris Goldstein, Executive Director, South Philly NORML 

“A nightmare scenario come to life.”

Read more from The Morning Call!

Follow South Philly NORML on Facebook and become a member today

Christine Kramar, Board Member, Nevada NORML 

“If you are effectively using marijuana, you will be at a leveling point; you are not high.

Read more from the Reno Gazette Journal!

Follow Nevada NORML on Facebook and become a member today

Dale Geringer, Executive Director, California NORML

“This is really a Los Angeles phenomenon … I can’t tell you where there would be an unlicensed dispensary operating in Oakland or San Francisco.”

Read more from California City News

Follow California NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Dan Linn, Executive Director, Illinois NORML 

“It’s an extension of Jim Crow and it disproportionately impacted communities of color. It saddled minorities with arrest records and in some cases felonies that prevented them from going to college or getting a job.”

Read more from rrstar.com!

“Cannabis criminalization in Illinois is coming to an end. While this bill isn’t perfect, it does provide a pathway for adults to legally obtain and consume cannabis. It also expands access and rights for qualified medical patients. Importantly, the bill provides much needed relief to those most harmed by the legacy of prohibition.”

Read more from Washington Blade

“Consumers who already have access will probably decide to continue to purchase it illegally above that $60 amount.”

Read more from Chicago Sun Times

“After a few years, when the tolerance level towards cannabis consumption in general is a little more accepting, you might be able to find the General Assembly having enough votes to pass something that does have a specific license that the state would be awarding to these types of businesses.”

Read more from Chicago Sun Times! 

Follow Illinois NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Dan Viets, Executive Director, Missouri NORML 

“Because marijuana is still illegal under federal statutes, many banks are reluctant to offer loans for a medical marijuana business, though it’s possible to get loans from private individuals.”

Read more from the Bonner County Daily Bee

Follow Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today

Dante Townsend, Founder, Chicago NORML 

“A lot of these neighborhoods that have the potential of being gentrified are going to be flooded with dispensaries and then when it comes time for other applicants, specifically the social equity applicants, to look for a location or get started, they won’t have anywhere to go.”

Read more from Chicago Sun Times

Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Edie Moore, Executive Director, Chicago NORML 

“It still won’t be legal to sell or smoke on the street. We have to educate our community so they’re not running into overzealous cops looking to bust people for breaking the law.”

Read more from the Chicago Tribune!

Follow Chicago NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jason Klimek, Political Director, Rochester NORML 

“Not legalizing really isn’t where we want to be as an organization and as a state.”

Read more from Spectrum News

“I think it just came down to the wire, and one of the real issues is a hastily drafted bill is ready for abuse,” he says. “We would rather take the time, then try to push something through.” 

Read more from 13 WHAM

Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

“This really moves this important issue to the front burner of Virginia politics.” 

Read more from The Washington Post

“Virginia NORML is dedicated to ensuring and expanding patient access.”

Read more from News Leader!

“The public’s response to Attorney General Herring’s statement not only supporting decriminalizing but legalizing and regulating adult use of marijuana has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Read more from 13 News Now

“It’s always important for an issue to have strong support within the administration.”

Read more from WHSV – TV3!

“Public support for meaningful reform is at an all time high, and candidates on the 2019 campaign trail are talking about marijuana more than ever.”

Read more from the Daily Press!

“In the past, we’ve had conversations focused around policy, now we can have a public conversation about the real implications.”

Read more from Southside Daily!

Follow Virginia NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today!

Jessica Struzik, Secretary, Northern Wisconsin NORML

“A dispensary is needed for anyone who can’t grow their own. I wouldn’t want to see a child smoking marijuana and we should, as adults keep it away from them. But that doesn’t mean keeping it away from other grown adults.”

Read more from the Eagle Herald! 

Follow Northwest Wisconsin NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

Justin See, Communication Director, Indiana NORML 

“If Indiana’s elected officials insist on continuing to criminalize cannabis use, law enforcement is going to have a lot of work on their hands when Illinois implements legal sale.”

Read more from Indy Politics

Follow Indiana NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Karen Goldstein, Executive Director, NORML of Florida 

“It will definitely stifle our voice, there’s no question.”

Read more from Talking Points Memo

Follow NORML of Florida on Facebook, Twitter and become a member today

Madisen Saglibene, Executive Director, Nevada NORML 

“It was one of those things where we were meeting with legislators and they were like, Absolutely not. We are not taking away employers’ right to hire who they want.”

Read more from Vice

“We’re very pleased. This isn’t the end-all-be-all but this is absolutely a step in the right direction.”

Read more from The Business Journal

Follow Nevada NORML on Facebook and become a member today

Madeline Martinez, Executive Director, Oregon NORML 

“If you have a record as a black market grower or distributor, you haven’t hurt anyone. But there are bad actors.”

Follow Oregon NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

Mary Kruger, Executive Director, Rochester NORML

“This decriminalization doesn’t even address or touch on all the collateral consequences that come along with a misdemeanor prosecution.”

Read more from 10 WHEC!

Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

Matthew Abel, Executive Director, Michigan NORML

“Expunging pot-related offenses would give them opportunities to get involved in the business aspect of this system.”

Read more from Detroit Metro Times!   

Follow Michigan NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

Michael Minardi, General Counsel, NORML of Florida

“This next month is huge for us to get to Supreme Court review, with plenty of time to pass review.”

Read more from Florida Politics

Follow NORML of Florida on Facebook, Twitter and become a member today!

Paul Kirchberg, Executive Director, Connecticut NORML 

“It’s very liberating here to be among other people in the cannabis industry, to be in a large venue like MassMutual and be able to be free of any prosecution or persecution. We hope Connecticut will follow suit quickly.”

Read more from The Middletown Press

Follow Connecticut NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Penelope Crescibene, Board Member, Western New York NORML

“For my medical needs I probably wouldn’t need more than six plants a year of even a small yield, like less than a pound. But I’ve heard from other medical patients who say there’s no way six plants would get them there because of the pain they’re in.”

Read more from The Buffalo News

Follow Western New York NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today

Steven Faber, Executive Director, Mid-Missouri NORML

“It will at least allow a dispensary somewhere to be able to locate in the downtown area.”

Read more from the Daily Columbia Tribune

Follow Mid-Missouri NORML on Facebook and become a member today! 

Steve VanDeWalle, Deputy Director, Rochester NORML

“It is imperative that a significant amount of the revenue that comes from legalized marijuana go back into the communities impacted most by the war on drugs.”

Read more from the Daily Messenger

“She agreed to work with us further to make this an automatic process because these people who are convicted of low-level marijuana crimes, this should not be a reactive process.”

Read more from Rochester First

“This is objectively the best and most comprehensive cannabis bill in the country.”

Read more from 13 WHAM!

“It is imperative that a significant amount of the revenue that comes from legalized marijuana go back into the communities impacted most by the war on drugs.”

Read more from 10 WHEC!

Follow Rochester NORML on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and become a member today

Tina Ullman, Development Director, Las Vegas NORML 

“Nevada voters did vote for recreational cannabis two years ago, and we ask that it be treated just like alcohol in question two, and that’s what we’re still asking today.”

Read more from Fox News

Follow Las Vegas NORML on Facebook and become a member today!

Troy Smit, Deputy Director, Empire State NORML 

“Never in my nearly ten-year history with the chapter have I ever been more hopeful about our chances of legalizing the responsible adult use of cannabis in New York.”

Read more from Forbes!

“If they come out with [another version], it’s almost guaranteed that it’s going to pass. I’d say it’s like an 80 percent chance because of just how committed the Gov. is in the media.”

Read more from Cheddar!

“Betrayal by the Democratic caucus that blocked this measure.”

Read more from Cheddar! 

Follow Empire State NORML on Facebook and Twitter and become a member today!

For more than 45 years NORML chapters have been the driving force behind policy decisions on the local and state level. Have you connected with your local NORML chapter? If there isn’t one in your community, please email NORML Outreach Director Kevin Mahmalji at KevinM@NORML.org for help with starting your own!

Ready to start a NORML chapter in your hometown? Click here to find out how!



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