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Forming a NORML Chapter

Download the chapter application form and guidelines to get started.

Your state local efforts are very important. We need to establish a network of citizen-advocates around the nation to advance the cause of ending marijuana prohibition and stopping the arrests of responsible smokers. Currently NORML has over 150 active chapters around the U.S.A. (and world) working hard in their communities to change these laws.

But we're going to need to get many more people involved to effect real change. Establishing a NORML chapter is, arguably, one of the the most effective things you can do.

Your willingness to support NORML at the state and local level is greatly appreciated. Former House Speaker Tip O'Neil was famous for saying that "all politics are local." It's important that your NORML chapter concentrate locally and organize from the town/city level to the state level. Working together we'll end cannabis prohibition once and for all.

Guidelines for Affiliation (updated March 2011):

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is a non-profit corporation charted in the District of Columbia and authorized by the IRS to operate as a 501(c)(4) public-interest lobby. NORML supports ending marijuana prohibition and opposes the practice of arresting otherwise law-abiding citizens who smoke marijuana. NORML's goals are more fully explained in the organization's basic brochure and on its web site (www.norml.org).

NORML wishes to affiliate and work cooperatively with local and statewide organizations that share our general goals. The following guidelines indicate the criteria which an organization must meet to qualify for affiliation with NORML, including the use of "NORML" in the affiliate's name.

  1. The group applying for affiliation must include at least 5 current NORML members; however, NORML will accommodate campus chapters that do not currently meet this requirement by offering reduced-rate student memberships of $15, or we will extend the deadline for a short period of time while the first 5 memberships are submitted to the national office.

    a. Once an organization is officially recognized as a NORML affiliate:

        i. Any individual who joins a state or local affiliate of NORML for $10 or more will receive a free one year membership to national NORML

        ii. Any student who joins a campus chapter for $5 or more will receive a free one year membership to national NORML.

  2. Applicant group must either:

    a. be a non-profit corporation established and operating under the laws that govern non-profit organizations in your state, or must form a non-profit corporation, adopt articles of incorporation and bylaws, register with the secretary of state (or other appropriate state office), and follow all state laws and regulations governing the operation of not-profit corporations; or

    b. in the case of a campus-based student chapter, must comply with all college or university requirements for campus organizations, and must seek official recognition from the college or university.

  3. The group must agree to conduct organizational business in a manner prescribed by state law for non-profit organizations, including the holding of regular board meetings, the keeping of board meeting minutes, and the holding of regular elections as required in the bylaws. Affiliates will be required to send an end of the year report including all of the aforementioned materials.

  4. The group must agree to pursue a program intended to educate the public; lobby local, state and federal officials; or otherwise build support for ending the criminal prohibition of marijuana and the arrest of marijuana smokers.

  5. The group must agree to operate in a professional manner and to avoid activities that would bring disrepute or otherwise harm NORML and its reform efforts. This includes the sale of so-called drug paraphernalia, grow lights and seeds (other than sterile hemp seeds). Also, chapters should seriously consider seeking a local legal opinion regarding the sale of drug testing alternatives and flush remedies.

  6. Guidelines for NORML state affiliates or chapters in states that have legalized the sale and/or use of medical marijuana.

    a. Because of NORML's federal tax-exempt status, no entity distributing marijuana, whether a cooperative, a collective, a non-profit, a for-profit, or any other entity, may serve as a NORML chapter, nor may the NORML name be used by any entity distributing marijuana.

    b. A majority of the board of directors of any NORML affiliate or chapter must be comprised of individuals who are not principals, board members or employees of any entity distributing marijuana.

    c. NORML affiliates and chapters must establish and maintain an address separate from any entity distributing marijuana. NORML affiliates and chapters may conduct meetings at the location of an entity that distributes marijuana, only if the entity is not conducting business during NORML functions. Any entity providing meeting space for a NORML affiliate or chapter shall close one hour prior to the NORML meeting or function and shall remain closed for one hour after the meeting or event has ended.

  7. After a one year grace period, every state affiliate is required to host at least one fundraising event annually (i.e. concert, party, etc.) co-sponsored by national NORML, whereby the proceeds will be split among the two involved organizations. NORML will provide assistance by promoting the show through our e-mail and mailing lists. Campus chapters, while not required to comply with this rule, are strongly encouraged to do so.

Chapter Revocation Procedure:

NORML reserves the right to revoke the affiliate status of any group or organization which fails to operate in accordance with these guidelines. In order for a chapter's affiliate status to be revoked, it must receive one formal warning, in writing, detailing which guidelines they fail to comply with and what can be done to remedy the situation. If two months after the warning has been issued the affiliate still is not in compliance, their status as an official NORML affiliate may be revoked by a vote of the NORML Board of Directors.

Questions regarding the affiliation process should be directed to NORML Chapter and Outreach Coordinator, chapters@norml.org





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