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Life As A Marijuana Activist


norml norm kentBy Kevin Mahmalji, NORML Outreach Coordinator

Following the decision by Colorado voters to legalize recreational marijuana in November of 2012, we’ve seen similar victories in Washington, Oregon, Alaska and even in our nation’s capitol. To many outside observers, these recent successes appear to have come over night. But this is not the case. These changes have been decades in the making and cannot be attributed to any one specific person or campaign.

For years, marijuana activists have worked tirelessly to lay the foundation for future legalization efforts in this country. From the early days of employing civil disobedience tactics such as public smoke-outs and regular protests, to a more modern approach of meeting with elected officials through citizen lobbying efforts, marijuana activists are the workhorses in the fight to end the prohibition of marijuana. They are the boots on the ground.

Of course this level of commitment eventually takes its toll. Being a marijuana activist can be extremely draining, both mentally and physically. In addition to the constant scrutiny from friends and family, we often risk losing our job, housing and in some cases, custody of our children. Regardless of the many risks we face, we continue to fight another day, even with no guarantee of what the outcome may be — essentially risking our freedom to challenge over 70 years of oppressive marijuana laws.

We wake up each day motivated by the hope of changing the unjust laws our country has embraced for so many years. We strive to bring justice to the thousands of Americans who have lost almost everything for a simple possession charge, and the families that have been ripped apart because a desperate mother tried to find her child some relief through medical marijuana.

Marijuana activists in every state dedicate countless hours to advocating for marijuana reforms on the local, state and federal level. They are constantly educating our communities, building coalitions and planning the next step. Like a game of Chess, every decision is calculated. With doubtful community leaders and skeptical politicians, the tiniest misstep can quickly become a roadblock for future conversations about marijuana reform.

Some of these activities may sound risky and not very glamorous. Nonetheless, marijuana activist will continue to be the driving force behind any success effort to reform our country’s marijuana laws. Whether through a citizen-led initiative or a legislative effort, marijuana activists are taking action into their own hands to end the senseless war against a plant and the American people. So to marijuana activists past, present and future, thank you for your sacrifices and continued dedication to ending the prohibition of marijuana on the local, state and federal level.

If you’re interested in changing marijuana laws in your city and/or state, there are several ways you can get involved. From working with our national office to organize a new group of passionate reformers in your community, to using our online Action Center to engage your elected officials, NORML is here to assist you with your efforts. 2016 is already shaping up to be a historic year for marijuana reforms so make sure your voice is heard by joining NORML today!

Four states down, forty-six more to go!

Source: NORML - make a donation


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  1. Oliver Steinberg on

    Don’t wait for NORML to get unscrambled. Just go ahead. #LegalMarijuanaNow; #PhelpsforSenate gives you an example, although independent election candidates are easier to get on the ballot in some states and harder in others. It’s going to take votes–lucky there’s the secret ballot. I’ll send more info to you via e-mail. — Ollie Steinberg, St. Paul MN

  2. Oliver Steinberg on

    There’s a NORML member running for State Senate in a special election in Minnesota Feb. 9 http://www.votephelps.com. #LegalMarijuanaNow #PhelpsforSenate. This opportunity could have been a political game-changer in this important non-ballot-initiative state. Action in the real world is necessary. Victory in the free states was won by using the VOTE. Figure out how to get votes and then the lawmakers might listen. No legalization effort can possibly succeed if it is simply an on-line diversion.

  3. Kathleen Chippi on

    Please explain why National NORML brought the unscientific THC DUI limit to Colorado, something that can negatively impact all daily, weekly and even monthly cannabis users? Is it to keep the criminal defense attorneys at NORML game-fully employed?

  4. It starts with #Compassion ? on

    O yea im very aware and educated of most if not all southern states judicial system as well. In other words, its pretty much like the 80’s in the south lol. Its all about helping to make a positive step my friend. Dont wait, be the driving force to do some research to help make a change to help end ? prohibition.Have you heard of #Womengrow? If not, google “Womengrow”. Asap!!! ??
    It starts with #Compassion?

  5. Closet Warrior on

    Right on Quell. I live in a somewhat southern state and I get the same treatmen. I call adt e-mail NORML in my Chapter area and I either get an answering machine w/a prerecorded message from a lawyer w/no info whatsoever. Then I call my congressman and they say call Washington DC. I called the Whitehouse comments line and they tell me to call or write my congressman! It’s a big runaround here. I want to do what you’re doing but have little to no support from community or individuals. So, frustrating but I’m never gonna stop preaching the benefits of cannabis and ending prohibition to anyone that will listen. Please give me advice as to how I can further my state’s knowledge of common sense…danniegillispie@gmail.com…Thanks for all that you do!

  6. Thanks, Sativa, and high fives for your initiative! I wonder what it is about the South? I suspect we have about as many partakers as elsewhere but very few seem willing to step up and speak out. NC is nominally decriminalized ($200 fine for less than 0.5 oz, first offense only) but more than 1.5 oz is a felony as is cultivation of any amount. Civil asset forfeiture of vehicles and property is at the discretion of law enforcement with the usual rule that your seized assets are guilty until proven innocent independent of the disposition of any charges against you.

  7. It starts with #Compassion ? on

    I feel you on that, i called my state rep and they told me that it wasnt much funding or action being done. So i took it up on myself to start a Cannabis Community full of Patients, Activist, Advocates, Cultivators, State Reps, Congressmen, to name a few and we getting things done. Medical Cannabis Community TN on instagram. The south with that slow shit, had to be proactive myself. No need to wait on Norml, We can do this and Norml can come and help when they ready

  8. Deana McKenzie on

    I thank all of you for your tireless work and efforts towards positive change with Cannabis!! One love!

  9. Ok, so how can I connect with other activists here in Western NC? I send money every month to DPA because I admire the work they do but they have no active programs here. I tried joining NC NORML 2 years ago. Their website accepted my donation, but I never got any kind of acknowledgement despite repeated emails and voicemails to their listed phone number. It’s pretty frustrating.

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