NORML Women featured as the secret to legalization

Three of our favorite NORML Women (L-R): Anne Davis (NORML NJ), Madeline Martinez (Oregon NORML), Cheryl Shuman (Beverly Hills NORML 90210)

Daniela Perdomo has written a fantastic piece on Alternet entitled “The Secret to Legal Marijuana? Women” featuring a look at some of our favorite NORML women…

In 2005, only 32 percent of polled women told Gallup they approved legalizing pot, but this year 44 percent of them were for it, compared to 45 percent of men. In effect, women have narrowed what had been a 12-point gender gap.
Women are also smoking more weed. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that current marijuana use increased from 3.8 to 4.5 percent among women, while there was no significant statistical change for men.
…Cheryl Shuman, a 49-year-old optician in Los Angeles, would agree. Up until she started using cannabis therapy to treat her cancer, she was on a daily regimen of 27 prescription drugs, attached to a mobile intravenous morphine pump, and undergoing constant CAT and MRI scans. In 2006, her doctors told her she’d be dead by the end of that year.
This year, Shuman became the founding director of Beverly Hills’ National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chapter — and she hopes to attract women to the cause.
…Enter Jessica Corry, a pro-life Republican from Denver. A mother of girls aged two and four, this 30-year-old newly-minted lawyer is widely hailed as a rising star in Colorado politics. … Mothers like Corry are drawn to marijuana regulation as part of a larger appeal that encourages the use of harm reduction to more pragmatically deal with substance abuse. … This year, there was a 37 percent increase in teens who said pot is easier to buy than cigarettes, beer or prescription drugs. Nearly one-quarter said they can get weed within the hour.
Those stats matter to women. In light of this, children and family will be included in the mission statement of the Women’s Alliance, a group NORML will launch next year. The coordinator, Sabrina Fendrick, plans to include mention of how current marijuana policy undermines the American family and sends mixed messages to young people.

Be sure to click over and read the entire article, as it also spotlights important female allies like Valerie Corral, Mikki Norris, and Debbie Goldsberry, who have all generously donated their time and expertise to our NORML podcasts and numerous NORML conferences, and my newest acquaintance, Deborah Small, who presented on my panel at the DPA Reform Conference last month. I agree with Perdomo; women will be the key to ending adult marijuana prohibition, just as women were key to ending liquor prohibition.
Ladies, won’t you join us? NORML is always looking for accomplished and confident women to join and lead chapters at the grassroots level all across the country. Send me an email at and I can put you in touch with Sabrina and the forthcoming NORML Women’s Alliance as well.

0 thoughts

  1. then tell the ” women of legalization” to stop slacking and make a change already.

  2. Count this woman in. I’m sick of the oppressive, regressive prohibition of cannabis by the snobs in power. We’re long, long overdue for REAL CHANGE.

  3. Its good to see that NORML is making sure to get everyone involved in changing our failed prohibition policies.
    I would like to applaud all of the women who are fighting with us to put a stop to the drug war.

  4. Great article Russ. I love hearing about these incredible,smart and wonderful women. The fact that they will be remembered in history for liberating us from cannabis prohibition is only right. They have a way of being very convincing to everyone because of their sincerity and openly honest message. This is one of the best things that has happened to this movement in a long time. We all welcome the help and appreciate everything they do for our cause. We will overcome this destructive law.

  5. Ok , I’m usually off the subject & in a little World of my own ,but i said i would write ( and that was a great article N.O.R.M.L. put together – above ) on my next post about the upcoming election to legalize Marijuana for
    California .
    Last Saturday morning ( 12/5/09 ) i met with the incredibly bright , Mauricio Garzon at Oaksterdam University in Oakland . He’s the Northern Ca. Coordinator for the initiative to tax & regulate Cannabis 2010 . Ken Masterson , a Marin County based Consultant who is in charge and who started the initiative for California said that we have so far around 600,000 signatures . We need 433 thousand & some change to get the measure on the ballot for the 2010 election . More than enough i thought , but still we ended up going out to Point Isabel Park on the San Francisco Bay ( i never saw so many dogs in all my life ) with me driving . Mauricio gathered signatures while i stood on the sidelines answering questions & explaining how legalization would benefit our cash strapped State to a number of people with most everyone in agreement .
    What surprised me were those who gladly wanted to sign the petition . There were ladies using walkers in their 80’s , crippled people in wheelchairs , old people , young people . People in all walks of life willing and wanting to sign . Some of these people explained the benefits Cannabis had for them & their lives .It was an incredible day but , we wrapped it up early because it was getting pretty nippy out along the Bay as the sun slowly set and we needed to meet with the other petitioners back at Oaksterdam U .
    So , the GOOD NEWS is that we’re there but , it’s not done , yet .
    A lot of those signatures have not been verified and D.A.T. will be spending huge sums of money to defeat the measure with Tobacco probally falling a distant 3rd . Pharma. & Alcohol will be doing everything to get our proposition defeated . To get out of the woods it’s going to take some money . Like 20 million but , we got people in all walks of life willing to support us & we hope you will , too .
    Anyone willing to help can send donations to ;
    Legalize it
    P.O. Box 30393
    Santa Barbara , Ca.93130
    with any sizable donation & with your request we’ll send you a letter or email you to let you know where your money is going .
    Example ; it will be aired on Channel XXX at 5:33 P:M: P.S.T. or it will be on Radio XYZ FM at 7:18 P:M: on 2/15/10 or for Billboard advertising ( we’ll let you know where that Billboard is ) .
    …..and part will be going to N.O.R.M.L. who has been good enough to allow me to bring you the truth & for the contributions they have made .

  6. Great news. Glad to hear that more women are “coming out of the closet” against cannabis prohibition. Need more articles and women like this!! Keep up the good work.

  7. Women are the great peacekeepers and rationalists of the world. We need more of them in NORML for sure. 🙂

  8. NORML. What can the average person, from a red state, who supports the movement do to help? What is your vision for cannabis in this country? A reply would be appreciated and respected.

  9. A Says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 1:11 am REPLY:
    Honestly there isnt much that any person can do. The best you can do is write letters to the right people. support orginizations like norml with donations and ect. A group of 25+ can do more too. not just what mentioned before but rally’s and ect.
    Sorry for my english ahead of time.

  10. Our Government will still generally Ignore the Cannabis Issue regardless of who speaks up, If this issue gets too hot, They will just invent another terrorist attack or some other Emergency to take the focus of attention OFF of Cannabis, It seems that something “Important” ALWAYS manages to happen when an Issue comes up that they DO NOT want to address, It`s not just the Cannabis issue that they Dodge! Watch the subject heat up and pay attention, See what “Breaking” World News gets pasted all over the Media to sidetrack the subject, I have seen it happen a few times already.
    Keep Voting, Vote the Idiots OUT!!!!

  11. Richard’s (Oaksterdam) law is NOT the law we need passed. No law is better than a bad law – THIS IS A BAD LAW. I doesn’t help anyone but those who want to profit. I creates more penalities and hardship for users – and really makes it hard to grow your own. PLEASE READ THE PROPSAL BEFORE YOU SIGN OR VOTE FOR IT. just because someone says it’s pro-pot doesn’t make it so.
    [Editor’ note: While NORML takes no position on the four ‘legalization’ initiatives currently gathering signatures in California, one may disagree with the strategies of any one of the initiatives, but to characterize any of the proposed initiatives as not being pro-pot is incorrect as they’re all pro-pot.]

  12. I love women! I really don’t think there are more ladies smoking now, I think they’re just becoming more comfortable talking about it. We definatley can use all the soccer moms’ help we can get because they are the ones who seem to get people to listen.
    The article is dead on in stating that moms are the ones who really know whats best for our future generations and in this new age of information is helping the average girl see beyond the lies. It’s usually us men who are more likely to be blinded by our desire to achieve our goals that we lose sight of the big picture and what we’re inadvertantly doing to our kids
    I love women! It would suck to be a man if they weren’t around!;)

  13. The poster named “not drinking the kool-aid” is right. The Tax Cannabis 2010 initiative is so poor. Look at this:
    This is a graphic showing how much better the California Cannabis Initiative is than Tax Cannabis 2010. Tax Cannabis 2010 would impose all kinds of shitty rules, like the extremely loosely worded way of saying “people cannot smoke any cannabis around minors.” If you can’t see how this could be abused, than you are blind.
    Tax Cannabis 2010 is pro-cannabis, but we could do SO MUCH BETTER. Vote for California Cannabis Iniative, or the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010. Don’t vote for Tax Cannabis 2010 if you want a good law.

  14. Also, read this:
    It compares the two initiatives in a comprehensive way, and will show you why the California Cannabis Initiative is so much better than the Tax Cannabis 2010 one. Vote for the Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010!!
    This article that I have linked to will tell you all the facts about the two California Cannabis Initiatives. Read it now!!

  15. ” not drinking the Kool – aid ” is because he’s drinking
    Alcohol .As stated previously D.A.T. will be working hard attempting to defeat the measure to stop the legalization of Cannabis . There will be many cronnies
    who will make you believe through deception and lies that they are pro – Cannabis when they are actually associated or have ties with D.A.T.
    When we asked if we could have permission to gather signatures at , The Harborside Cannabis Dispensary we were flat out denied . They would NOT allow any petitioner there . The reason why is because legalization will cut into their profit so , it is the OPPOSITE of what ” not drinking Kool – Aid ” is saying .

  16. I think that there is more that one person can do than just write letters to political people. We can all register to vote and make sure we participate in jury duty. If we don’t convict our fellow citizens, prohibition may end sooner than later. Jury nullification, learn it and use it.

  17. Thank you so much Russ for including us in your blog post 🙂 It is an honor to work with all of you.
    Cheryl Shuman
    Executive Director
    Beverly Hills NORML 🙂

  18. Dear Editor and others: To clarify – I did not say it was “anti-pot” (no one said that, but I just want to be sure that is understood), so I suppose we’re left with what one considers to be “not pro-pot.” To me ‘not pro-pot’ means it maintains the stigma as evidenced by the penalities being imposed, some worse than they are already; taxing medicine to buy the appearance of respectability, and including all those provisos (I don’t hide from my child when I take insulin, but I should when I medicate with cannabis?).
    Richard has a trade school that he markets as a “University.” I have no problem with a trade school to teach future budistas. I do, however, find it pretentious. He’s positioning himself to make money. Again, that’s okay with me; he’s a business man and he makes money. Yeah for him.
    My point it this is a BAD LAW. I continue to urge everyone to READ the proposed laws, ask questions and support the best one, and not to support one that will increase and continue to harm stoners.
    So, editor, I disagree with your assessment of my “incorrectness” – our definitions simply vary on a term. That is something a culture needs to allow – diversity of thought.
    Truth Doctor – I was firm and passionate on a political point. I did not name call or bash, I stated my opinion of the language and potential out comes which do not favor people growing their own, but encouraging dependence on businesses (if someone wants to go to a dispensary, fine, but don’t limit my grow space or do some of the other things mentioned in the initiative). And,I urged people to read the initiative. If after reading it someone thinks it’s just fine, they are free to sign or vote for what they wish. That is their right. I do not find it a disservice to out community to encourage active thought, consideration and participation in our political process. I do not drink alcohol, and comments like that do not further the public discourse and bring this community down.
    It’s okay for us to disagree, to be divided on an issue; it shows we are not obedient robots. That’s my reason for the choice of “Not drinking the Kool-aid.” I learned long ago, that not all is as it seems and try not to jump in, just because it sounds good. That’s why I took the time to read and consider the initiatives. You’re rudeness was uncalled for as was the editor’s comment that I was “incorrect” without understanding my point of view.
    Let us disagree, let us debate, let us revel in and grow stronger because of it; and, let us show each other respect.
    (Still) not drinking the kool-aid (anyone’s kool-aid)
    [Editor’s note: Stop beating a dead horse here on NORML’s webpage….ya…you don’t like Richard Lee or his initiative. Please take your personal disputes elsewhere. You’ve made your point dozens of times since September with your anti-Richard Lee posts.]

  19. Where theres money, theres corruption and greed. everyone should be free to grow their own….well guess we are now..just gotta hide it .
    Everytime I think of people growing their own stash I think of the little squirrl on the ICE AGE movies…Always chasing that nut…. ok I’m a nut 🙂

  20. THC 2010 is the best measure . I agree that any criminal record associated with Marijuana should be
    expunged …….but either one getting passed will be a a lot better than what we have now .
    Futhermore this baffles me since i doubt if we’ll be voting come next year on one measure or the other measure . It’s got to be THC 2010 & i doubt that we will be given a choice but , as i said anything is better than what ridiculousness we have now .

  21. Here’s what the initiative says & i faxed a copy to N.O.R.M.L. 2 minutes ago ,
    INITIATIVE STATUE : Allows people 21 years or over to possess , cultivate , or transport marijuana for personal use . Permits local Governments to regulate & tax commercial production and sale of marijuana to people 21 yrs. or older . Prohibits people from possessing marijuana on school grounds , using it in public , smoking it while minors are present , or providing it to anyone under 21 yrs. of age . Maintains current prohibitions against driving while impaired .

  22. Richard Lee has taken a formerly run down section of Oakland and revitalized it . Brought new businesses into Oakland which created jobs . In doing so these businesses are now paying taxes which in turn creates more employment . Richard Lee was the one who actually encouraged & advocated that the dispensaries pay taxes . Today with the passage of new laws the City is now getting tax money it never had before .
    When i moved to , Eureka it was like one big crack house , lawlessness prevailed ,filled with
    alcoholics . Meth users dominated the Town. I started buying run down & delapidated crack houses
    everywhere , brought employment & better people into , Eureka . I spent my own money and i never received one penny from the City ( or County )to get junk and abandoned vehicles removed from our Streets . I sued my own neighbors because they made the neighborhood dangerous and unsafe by renting their places out to junkies . I was threatened
    & one of my places was broken into .
    What they won’t tell you is i along with Richard Lee , both advocates for the legalization of Marijuana make our Cities & Towns better for everyone, not worse . They don’t want you to hear the TRUTH . Instead they preach lies and fall for deceptiveness because they don’t want to hear the TRUTH .
    # 21 = You thoughts and opinion have been well said & your kind words and honesty are well respected .
    God Bless ,
    the Truth doctor
    has done all these things . They deny the truth

  23. So when will you women going to teach the public about Jury nullification?
    Did you know that the KKK killed people in the south in the late 1960s and a all white jury used Jury Nullification or Jury Lawlessness to set murders free after all the evidence showed they were guilty as hell?
    Jury Nullification was used against just people seeking justice from the Court system, ha! ha!.
    It is time we use this same right against the cannabis laws and refuse to convict people for having, smoking, growing cannabis period. We don’t need to change congresses small mind, we just cancel what they have done.

  24. the key to medical legalization, which btw is the key to full legalization…would be changing the face of the stereotype…people like myself, or montel williams, people with serious disorders..need to represent what marijuana can do for you….not getting stoned…
    sorry, its not a popular viewpoint, but its how I feel…those AGAINST marijuana wont support it unless its made more friendly to those anti smoking and anti pot…take away the visual..

  25. None of this would be possible without our current President and if this Country is going under it’s going under regardless of whoever is President .History has always shown that Nation’s rise & Nation’s fall .
    Sheryl Shuman…………so nice to hear from you . I hope you’ll do an editorial about yourself & perhaps all the achivements you’ve made now that you’ve become a part of the fine organization known as N.O.R.M.L. Let’s hope we’ll hear more from you three wonderfully bright & intelligent women soon , Anne ,Madeline & Sheryl .

  26. GET TO WORL LADIES, 800,000 plus people will go to prison and have their lives destory. Please do your thing, do that thing that only women seem able to do, and do it without delay, please.

  27. Hi,
    I wanted to see if maybe someone could assist me. I am doing my final report for English and it is on ” Medical Marijuana “, but I have to have two online interviews with experts on the subject. If someone on here has true knowledge can yo please get back to me.
    Thank you for your time.

  28. I was happy to read this and found it interesting and inspiring. I’m a 21-year-old female, so I can’t do much, but if I can take any steps to get the message out and spread knowledge on the issue of legalizing marijuana, please let me know what I can do to help. Thank you, and keep fighting people!

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