Profiles in Cannabis

NORML is proud to confirm that the following will be speaking at the 2009 NORML National Conference. They say, "Yes we cannabis" and so should you! Meet them and hundreds of other likeminded people at NORML's 38th annual conference.

Dr. Lester Grinspoon
Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Dr. Lester GrinspoonDr. Grinspoon is Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and served for 40 years as Senior Psychiatrist at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. A Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychiatric Association, he was the founding editor of both the Annual Review of Psychiatry and the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

He is the author or co-author of over 160 journal articles, including his 1995 commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled "Marihuana as Medicine: A Plea for Reconsideration." His first book, Marihuana Reconsidered, originally published in 1971 by Harvard University Press, was recently republished as a classic. His latest book, Marihuana, the Forbidden Medicine, co-authored with James B. Bakalar, was published by Yale University Press in 1993 (revised and expanded edition, 1997) and has now been translated into ten languages. Dr. Grinspoon was also a reviewer of the 1999 Institute of Medicine report, "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base."

In 1990 Dr. Grinspoon received the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship and Writing from the Drug Policy Foundation (now Alliance) in Washington, DC. He presently serves on NORML's Advisory Board and maintains, which chronicles real life stories of people who have had positive "non-medical" experiences with marijuana.

"When I first began to study marijuana in 1967, I naïvely believed that its only use was as a recreational drug," says Grinspoon. "I soon came to understand that it also had a second important utility, as a medicine, and I published (along with James B. Bakalar) Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine. Just as penicillin, after its discovery as an antibiotic in 1941, was soon hailed as a wonder drug because of its limited toxicity, its versatility in treating a number of different kinds of symptoms and syndromes, and its limited cost, we believe that marijuana, for the same three reasons, will eventually be hailed as a wonder medicine. Over the last decade and a half I have come to believe that there is a third category of marijuana use --enhancement."

More about Dr. Lester Grinspoon:

Tom Ammiano
California State Assemblyman

California state Assemblyman Tom AmmianoIn February, Assemblyman Ammiano introduced legislation to legalize and regulate the commercial production and sale of cannabis for adults age 21 or over. The proposal -- Assembly Bill 390: The Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act -- is the first bill ever to be introduced in the California legislature that seeks to tax and control the sale of cannabis.

Says Ammiano: "With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move towards regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes. California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana."

In July, a revised budgetary analysis by the California State Board of Equalization estimated that the passage of Ammiano's bill would raise approximately $1.4 billion in annual new state revenue.

More about Assemblyman Tom Ammiano:

Richard Lee
'Mayor of Oaksterdam'

Richard LeeRichard Lee has been working to end cannabis prohibition for nearly two decades. In 1992 he co-founded Legal Marijuana - The Hemp Store in Houston, Texas, one of the first hemp products retail outlets in the United States. In 1997, Richard relocated to Oakland, California, where he co-founded the Hemp Research Company, which supplied medical cannabis to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Club, and promoted efficient and environmentally friendly methods of cannabis horticulture. Two years later he opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the second retail cannabis outlet in "Oaksterdam." In 2003, Richard founded the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, the political action committee that passed Oakland's Measure Z -- making private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority and mandating that Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law. More recently, he founded the first-ever cannabis college in the United States, Oaksterdam University, which seeks to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry.

Richard was one of the driving forces behind the recent passage of Oakland's Measure F, which imposes the nation's first ever business tax on retail marijuana sales, and is presently spearheading The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which seeks to allow California adults 21 years of age and older to possess and consume, cultivate, and possess small amounts of cannabis. Richard will be discussing and debating various aspects of both of these reform endeavors, and what they mean for the cannabis community, at NORML's 2009 conference.

More about Richard Lee:

Mark Stepnoski
Former NFL star

Mark StepnoskiMr. Stepnoski is a decorated pro athlete. Mark played for thirteen years in the National Football League, during which he won two Super Bowl rings (with the Dallas Cowboys) and was nominated for the Pro Bowl on five occasions. Mark was also named second team center on the NFL 'All-Decade team' for the 1990s.

Since retiring from pro football in 2001, Mark has dedicated much of his energy to reforming America's antiquated and draconian marijuana laws. He is a former President of Texas NORML and presently serves on NORML's national advisory board. "I took great pride in my performance on and off the field, and often questioned why our culture embraces alcohol while simultaneously stigmatizing those who choose to consume a less harmful alternative, marijuana," he says. "[It] is inconsistent, both legally and socially, for our laws to punish adults who make the 'safer' choice."

Mark will be leading an all-star panel discussion at this year's conference pertaining to the use of cannabis among top athletes. "Since I was a kid, I wanted to play in the NFL," says Mark. "Even though I occasionally used marijuana, it never prevented me from attaining my goals."

More about Mark Stepnoski:

Rob Van Dam
Former World Wrestling Entertainment Heavyweight Champion

Rob Van DamRob Van Dam has amazed audiences around the world with his athleticism and martial arts skills. Throughout his wrestling career, Rob Van Dam rarely hesitated to voice his affection for cannabis -- even coining the popular catch-phrase, "4:20 means I just smoked your ass." In 2006 he reached the pinnacle of his profession, winning the WWE world heavyweight championship. He was eventually stripped of the title later that year following his arrest for minor marijuana possession. Since leaving pro wrestling he has appeared in numerous television shows and action films, as well as hosting his own online series RVD TV. Rob Van Dam is open about his marijuana use and the need to reform America's cannabis laws, frequently discussing the issue on his live radio show.

"Our federal government prohibited this organic plant based on lies, continues to classify it among the most dangerous drugs to validate billions in funding pointless agendas, and denies it's medical value, causing countless lives to suffer needlessly," he says. "How can anyone not care?"

Rob will be participating an all-star panel discussion at this year's conference pertaining to the use of cannabis among top athletes. Says Rob: "How about we stop ignoring the fact that World Champion athletes who take their health extremely seriously sometimes choose to use marijuana? Why are we ignoring the message there?"

More about Rob Van Dam:

Rick Steves
Travel Writer, Television Host

Rick StevesMr. Steves is the host of the popular public television series, "Rick Steves' Europe," and author of over 30 European travel books. For more than 30 years, he has helped American travelers connect more intimately with Europeans -- often for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Since joining NORML's Advisory Board, Rick has been an outspoken advocate for marijuana law reform. He hosted the recent television program Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation, and has spent countless hours lobbying politicians in his home state of Washington (and elsewhere) about the need to stop arresting responsible adults who consume marijuana.

"Like most of Europe, I believe marijuana is a soft drug (like alcohol and tobacco), not a hard drug," he says. "Like alcohol and tobacco, it should be treated as a health rather than a criminal issue. Crime should only enter the equation if it is abused to the point where innocent people are harmed."

He adds: "As a parent helping two children navigate their teen years, and as a travel writer who has seen firsthand how Europe deals with its drug problem, I've thought a lot about U.S. drug policy -- particularly our criminalization of marijuana. ... The time has come to have an honest discussion about our marijuana laws and their effectiveness. We need to find a policy that is neither 'hard on drugs' nor 'soft on drugs' -- but smart on drugs."

More about Rick:

Norm Stamper
Former Seattle Chief of Police

Norm StamperMr. Stamper was a police officer for 34 years, the first 28 in San Diego, the last six (1994-2000) as Seattle's Chief of Police. He has a doctorate in Leadership and Human Behavior, and is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing (Nation Books, 2005). He is an advisory board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and is a frequently featured critic of the drug war on radio and cable news outlets.

Most recently, Norm penned the forward to the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink? (Chelsea Green, 2009), stating: "From my own work and the experiences of other members of the law enforcement community, it is abundantly clear that marijuana is rarely, if ever, the cause of harmfully disruptive or violent behavior. In fact, I would go so far as to say that marijuana use often helps to tamp down tensions where they otherwise might exist."

More about Norm:

Jessica Peck Corry
Public Policy Analyst

Jessica Peck CorryMs. Corry is a Denver-based public policy analyst and political strategist, specializing in civil rights issues. In 2008, Jessica was highlighted as one of Colorado's most influential women by the Denver Examiner; in 2007, she was named one of Colorado's top political "Movers and Shakers" by the Colorado Statesman. She regularly appears on Denver TV and radio for her policy expertise and her blog, "The Corry Story," is published by The Denver Post's

Jessica is a former GOP candidate for the Colorado state senate, where despite being outspent more than four-to-one, she garnered nearly 47 percent of the vote against a two-term incumbent. She began her career as a press secretary in the United States Senate, working for U.S. Senators Fred Thompson (R-TN) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and for the U.S. Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.

Ms. Corry is the proud parent of two young daughters, and is an outspoken critic of cannabis prohibition ­ in particular, its adverse effects on children. "It costs $30,000 a year to incarcerate a pot dealer," she says, "and we spend $10,000 a year to educate a child."

More about Jessica:

High Times
Harborside Heath Center
The Hemp and Cannabis
The Healing Center of ColoradoMediCannCannabis Therapeutics
Weed Tracker
Berkeley Patients GroupCannabis ScienceHayes Insurance Agency
The Green Door