NORML Owes The Medical Marijuana Community An Apology


Nilo Radio
NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre: “Defending the ‘medical’ cannabis industry is so yesterday”

​NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre has called the medical marijuana industry a “legal farce” and “largely a sham” in an article which hit the web yesterday, creating a backlash among NORML’s many supporters (quite a few of whom likely just became former supporters) in the medicinal cannabis industry.
How many times must we repeat this? Attacking medical marijuana is not a good legalization strategy.
The sadly predictable outcome is that for the next umpteen years, every single time a medical cannabis initiative is raised in any state, the opposition are going to drag out St. Pierre’s ill-considered words as ammunition. “Why are you sitting there trying to tell us this state needs a medical marijuana law when NORML itself has admitted medical marijuana is a fraud and a sham?”
The piece, published by Steve Bloom on CelebStoner (according to NORML’s “Radical” Russ Belville, from private listserv emails sent last October, and without St. Pierre’s permission), is really unfortunate, and is a huge, huge blunder on NORML’s part. The pity of it is, it’s not just NORML that’s going to have to pay for St. Pierre’s mistake — it’s the medical cannabis community which he apparently so disdains.

You’d think the number one guy at a national organization which depends upon contributions for its lifeblood would have been a little more circumspect with his words — especially since the medical marijuana community has poured so much money into legalization for everyone — but such was unfortunately not the case.

Paul Chinn

​In one of the worst — and most demonstrably false — statements he made, St. Pierre claimed “The medi-pot industry, of course, opposes actual legalization, such as last year’s Prop 19, which was also opposed by the profiteering communities in the state’s northern ‘grow’ counties.”
That certainly comes as news to many of NORML’s heaviest contributors — whom, I suspect, will be remembering this little incident next time NORML asks for a check. Talk about self-fulfilling prophecies!
I’m as aware as everyone else that many profit-hungry growers and dispensary owners opposed Prop 19 back in 2010 — and I called them out on it, very publicly, in many cases by name. (I was told “You can’t say that” and “It’s really not a good idea to piss off the growers,” and I basically told the greedy bastards to go fuck themselves.)
That doesn’t change the fact that many, many medical marijuana patients and providers — I feel safe in saying the vast majority — support legalization for everyone.
How do I know? Because it’s not just for some pie-in-the-sky idealistic, altruistic reason of justice. It also is the outcome of enlightened self-interest.
Let me explain. Those who have spent much time examining the problem have come to the conclusion that medical marijuana patients and providers will never, ever be safe in their homes and places of business until cannabis is legal for all adults.

​Until that time, we as medical marijuana patients have targets on us — both for ripoffs and for over-zealous law enforcement, many of whom are still in denial about the medical marijuana laws and have no love for marijuana and the people who use it, no matter how sick they are.

One of the first things I did after I started smoking pot at age 17, back in 1977, was to send off my membership dues to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. I was proud to be a member of a group that wanted to be part of the solution to cannabis prohibition in the United States.

NORML has always been about the eventual legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes — a goal with which I 100 percent agree. What I cannot, and will never, agree to is disparaging the medical marijuana community as a way of getting to that goal.

And while I’ve not always agreed with everything NORML has said and done, I’ve also been quite resistant to the usual NORML-bashers who throw around accusations of it being  “lawyers’ lobby” or such nonsense.
I’ve even had to delete a few obnoxious folks on Facebook who just wouldn’t stop with the senseless, divisive anti-NORML rhetoric.
But speaking of senseless and divisive rhetoric, what did St. Pierre hope to accomplish with his statements published on CelebStoner yesterday?
St. Pierre, who, I’d wager, is currently learning differently in no uncertain terms, seemed to have decided it was a good time to bash the medical marijuana movement that has brought safe access to patients in 16 states and the District of Columbia.
“Defending the ‘medical’ cannabis industry is so yesterday,” St. Pierre’s piece began. and it only goes downhill from there.
“If this were the 1920s, advocacy of today’s ‘medical’ cannabis industry [yeah, Allen always puts “medical” in quotes like that — good job of pissing us off, there, genius] would sound like a lawyer back then fronting for the legal sellers of ‘prescription’ alcohol during Prohibition,” St. Pierre wrote.
“Prescriptive alcohol was a sham then, and the ‘medical’ cannabis industry (not medical cannabis itself) is largely a sham now,” he wrote.
“NORML, and lawyers like Bill Panzer, have been warning ganjapreneurs and their legal counsel at our seminars and conferences about this political and legal box canyon since at least 2002,” St. Pierre wrote.
Of course, we cannot allow cannabis to be “boxed in” that way; rescheduling it is no solution, nor is any way forward which allows Big Pharma to monopolize access to this healing and beneficial plant.
But trashing the medical marijuana community — thus endangering safe access for potentially millions of seriously ill patients — is a bad, bad idea.
Defending medical marijuana, Mr. St. Pierre, is not “yesterday.” It is “today,” and it will remain “today” until every single patient who needs it has safe, legal, unfettered access to the herb that helps them the most.
Until that day, if you can’t actually help us achieve that goal, please avoid stepping on your dick and trying to speak for us. It’s supremely irritating to read a healthy man’s writing about the medical marijuana “scam.”
The experience was even more surreal for me this morning as I was wracked with dry heaves, relieved only by cannabis, as I read St. Pierre’s column. (Yes, the cannabis — brought to me by, you guessed it, the medical marijuana industry — stopped the nausea; no, it didn’t feel like a “scam.”)
Maybe it’s past time for NORML to appoint a Medical Marijuana Patient Liaison, because your lack of empathy isn’t doing your organization any favors.