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NORML Divided As Allen St. Pierre Votes For His Own Job


allen st pierre normlLast week I reported that the Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) had narrowly retained his position in a vote at the latest meeting of the NORML Board of Directors in Key West, Florida. On November 28, the NORML Board voted 8-6, with 1 abstention, against a motion filed by the Executive Committee to seek a new executive director.

Through my sources I have learned that NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, who is also a member of the NORML Board of Directors, was one of the eight votes against searching for his own replacement.

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, such a vote by a board member on a motion concerning himself is not out of order, but not generally advised for “a sense of delicacy.”

It is a general rule that no one can vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest. Yet this does not prevent a member from voting for himself for any office or other position, as voting for a delegate or for a member of a committee; nor from voting when other members are included with him in the motion, even though he has a personal or pecuniary interest in the result, as voting on charges preferred against more than one person at a time, or on a resolution to increase the salaries of all the members. If a member could in no case vote on a question affecting himself, it would be impossible for a society to vote to hold a banquet, or for a legislature to vote salaries to members, or for the majority to prevent a small minority from preferring charges against them and suspending or expelling them. By simply including the names of all the members, except those of their own faction, in a resolution preferring charges against them, the minority could get all the power in their own hands, were it not for the fact that in such a case all the members are entitled to vote regardless of their personal interest. A sense of delicacy usually prevents a member from exercising this right of voting in matters affecting himself except where his vote might affect the result.

Not considering St. Pierre’s vote would yield a result of 7-6-1, so the motion to find a new executive still would have failed.  Even if the abstaining vote would have supported the motion for a new executive, the resulting 7-7 tie would not carry the motion.  A plurality vote cannot carry a motion, meaning that 8 votes would be required to form a majority to remove St. Pierre.  However, it is notable that without his own vote, the Executive Director does not have the support of the majority of the NORML Board of Directors.


About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.


  1. I believe that MMJ is not a farce. Having said that though, I get frustrated when some MMJ users and others involved in MMJ don’t reciprocate and support all adult use legalization initiatives like prop 19, I-502 or A-64. It’s like they takesupport for MMJ as a sign of weakness instead as a sign of solidarity.

  2. I agree. For someone who is supposed to be the spokesman for marijuana legalization I’ve heard the NORML management say really stupid things in interviews. If you don’t know what to say when interviewed you should step down. Things like medical marijuana is a farce, dispensary operations raises crime in the area and others.

  3. Dave,
    You couldn’t be more wrong. Legalization for medical and recreational are separate issues both with their own merits, but not the same merits. .

  4. TotalLegalHaze on

    Cannabis as medicine is NOT a farce. Cannabis is problem solver – medicinally, industrially, economically, and socially; the list goes on for the values of the Cannabis Plant and so does the value of education to this fact.

  5. Burlwood Barry on

    hunger for power is sort of incompatible with cannabis culture. why doesn’t NORML’s Executive Director Allen St. Pierre know that? bad form. time 2 go

  6. DavidTheExpert on

    People are mad at Allen because he spoke out against MMJ, calling it a farce. But it is a farce, really. It’s just a stepping stone on the path to legalization. Let’s not lose sight of our goals over this bickering.

  7. I don’t agree. Allen has had this job for a long time and some of his “critics” are just… full of it. Why change now when all the hard work he’s put in is starting to pay off? I’d rather have someone in charge that isn’t afraid to say the truth instead dancing around it.

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