Momentum for federal cannabis reform may be slowing down under the current presidential administration, but the industry has never had more lobbyists in Washington, D.C., than it does now. And few have been lobbying longer than the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which visited Capitol Hill last week to advocate for a number of pot-friendly bills and amendments.
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The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is sending a clear signal to the administration of President Donald Trump following the latest negative words and deeds aimed at legal marijuana in Colorado and beyond by Justice Department officials Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein. In the words of NORML policy director Justin Strekal, “Should the Department of Justice decide to throw out the Tenth Amendment and respect for states’ rights as they govern their own intrastate commerce, they’re going to have a fight on their hands.”
For the first time in recent years, all three Colorado chapters of NORML came together to lobby for cannabis on the state level. Denver NORML, Southern Colorado NORML and Colorado NORML joined forces on Tuesday, March 7, to educate state lawmakers on some key cannabis measures, including SB17-184, the Private Marijuana Clubs Open and Public Use bill.
“It was a first,” says Jordan Person, executive director of Denver NORML, who also notes that for the first time, women are running each of the three chapters.
In a recent interview, University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin outlined three ways Donald Trump could shut down state-legal marijuana — a prospect that has raised increasing levels of concern among cannabis reformers since the president-elect’s nomination of pot-hating Senator Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.
Erik Altieri, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, shorthanded as NORML, acknowledges that such worries are prevalent right now, and he doesn’t dismiss them out of hand. Indeed, he encourages NORML supporters and anyone who objects to the federal government treating marijuana as a substance on par with heroin to be prepared for a crackdown, even if one has not yet been announced.
In late August, the Denver Responsible Use Initiative, a proposal intended to create venues for the social consumption of cannabis in the Mile High City, fell short of qualifying for the November ballot. Afterward, attorney Judd Golden of Denver NORML, which backed the measure, told us the organization had not yet decided whether it would support a rival initiative, the Neighborhood Supported Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program, should its ballot petition pass muster.
Shortly thereafter, the pilot program achieved ballot qualification — and the campaign for what is now known as Initiative 300 is in full swing on the eve of election day. But Denver NORML isn’t part of the Yes on 300 campaign’s final push.
Update: The Denver Responsible Use Initiative, a Denver NORML-backed proposal intended to create venues for the social consumption of cannabis in the Mile High City, fell short of qualifying for the November ballot — and attorney Judd Golden, who was both the author of the initiative and one of its primary proponents, has a major takeaway from the experience.
|Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.|
Yesterday during a debate with Republican gubernatorial rival Bob Beauprez, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper described Colorado voter’s legalization of marijuana as “reckless.” In response, Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, calls Hickenlooper a hypocrite — and that’s not all.
|ISU NORML Facebook.|
|An ISU student picks up trash around campus in one of the banned shirts (in red) during a volunteer day.|
Iowa State University is under fire in federal court after the Iowa State National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws says they were unfairly told to remove the school mascot, Cy the Cardinal, from their t-shirts.
Two students, juniors Paul Gerlich and Erin Fuleigh, have filed a suit in Iowa arguing that their First Amendment rights were trampled by the college, who demanded NORML remove Cy from their shirts after a state lawmaker complained that it sent the wrong message. Their lawsuit is part one of four filed this week, the others coming from students at Ohio University, Chicago State University and Citrus College in California.
|Minnesota state Rep. Rena Moran.|
Yesterday, we told you that the Minnesota NORML, for the first time, plans to push legislation next session that would legalize marijuana in Minnesota. Marcus Harcus, the new associate director of MN NORML,says the organization is targeting pro-legalization Rep. Rena Moran (D-St. Paul) as the possible author of the bill in the House. Moran, you’ll recall, recently told a pro-medical marijuana rally, “Let’s create a system where we can tax and regulate the sale, so we can invest more wisely in all of us.”
But despite those comments, Moran said yesterday she won’t serve as the sponsor MN NORML is seeking next session. Minneapolis City Pages has the full story.
For the first time in its history, Minnesota NORML plans to draft a marijuana legalization bill for consideration during the next legislative session. Marcus Harcus, the new associate director of the organization, tells us “the precedent that was set in Colorado and Washington gives me hope that it’s a reasonable fight.”
Discussions about the bill are preliminary at this point, but some of the details will be hammered out during an upcoming MN NORML strategic planning retreat, Harcus, who came to NORML from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, says. Legal experts will be brought in to help write the bill, he adds.