NORML: America’s Best Known and Respected Marijuana Lobby Organization Turns 40-Years Old!

The Cause: Cannabis
In early November of 1970, a young public interest lawyer named R. Keith Stroup, along with a few of his friends who also believed that state and federal laws that criminalized the responsible use of marijuana by adults was counter-productive and unenforceable, met in a Georgetown row house in the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. and decided to form an organization called ‘National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws’, aka, NORML, the now brilliantly infamous acronym and service mark that is readily recognized as America’s ‘Pro-Marijuana Lobby Organization’.

However, after filing the necessary paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service and the Washington, D.C. government, it was not until this day forty years ago, March 2, 1971, that ‘NORML’ came to be a formally recognized as a non-profit public interest group with a clearly unique and revolutionary mission statement: To End Decades Of Marijuana Prohibition.
Bittersweet Birthday!
So, it is on this day that we bittersweetly recognize NORML’s improbable existence and remarkable longevity in opposition to all-powerful American governments (and their bureaucratic and law enforcement agents) and to the organization’s clear contributions to reforming the nation’s (and, very likely, much of the world’s) marijuana laws.
However, the organization is chagrined that it is still in existence despite the clear failure of Cannabis Prohibition laws and the popularity among the general public for ‘soft’ reforms (the public overwhelmingly supports medical access to cannabis and for ‘decriminalization’; a near majority of Americans in recent surveys support legalization for responsible adult use).
The principle goal of NORML, after 40 years of public advocacy for ending the criminalization of cannabis by the state and federal governments, is still to put the organization out of business.
So, again, it is with equal degree of frustrated embarrassment and great civic pride that we mark this day in both the organization’s impactful history as well as that of America’s five-decade old effort to end another failed government prohibition (placed into historical context and cost to the public, Alcohol Prohibition barely lasted a dozen years).
Reefer Reflections
In the coming year, NORML and NORML Foundation will mark the organization’s 40th anniversary not so much in celebration, but in reflection of the amazing public advocacy efforts, setbacks and achievements that have led the nation to this day where 15 states have ‘medical’ cannabis laws, 13 states have ‘decriminalized’ possession, and, by the end of 2012, likely one or more states will either pass cannabis legalization legislation or state voters will approve legalization initiatives.
NORML interns have been scanning hundreds of photos, documents, interviews and news articles from the organization’s huge archives for the purposes of memorializing and informing America’s experience with Cannabis Prohibition and the organized activities to reform the laws.
Change Is In The Air…You Can Smell It
Cannabis law reformers are on the precipice of major social changes in favor of the liberalization of cannabis laws—and the state and federal governments, law enforcement and competitors to legal cannabis all recognize this to be true.
None of this would have been possible for NORML over these many years without the dedicated grassroots support provided by stakeholders.
Recognizing that most of the hardest work that entailed the greatest amounts of personal self-sacrifice are thankfully behind us, we also have to recognize there is still much work left to do before adults can lawfully use cannabis products in a manner and form similar to the way adults can consume alcohol products.
On this day, NORML’s official birthday, I’m asking NORML supporters and cannabis consumers far and wide to join me in celebrating a most remarkable public interest group that exists to serve and protect cannabis consumers, lobby and litigate for reforms, and educates the public, media and elected officials about cannabis (and why Cannabis Prohibition laws must end now).
What has been ever fascinating to me in the nearly 20 years I’ve worked for the organization is how much positive change NORML achieves on a shoestring budget of well under one million dollars annually. None of this would have been possible without a large network of volunteers, lawyers and activists willing to both care and share.

There are some public interest organizations that reportedly scare the clothes off of elected policymakers, groups like the National Rifle Association, NAACP, AIPAC, ACLU, Operation Rescue, etc…However, according to popular Internet tracking sites (i.e., Alexa), none of these organizations have the web traffic that NORML has.
Money Is the Mother’s Milk Of Politics
What these groups have that NORML does not possess is committed funding sources and/or endowments.
That’s OK; on one hand being cash-starved keeps a public interest group like NORML innovative, humble and committed to representing stakeholders’ interests. However, on the other hand, despite the general public’s increasing support for reforming cannabis laws and recognizing prohibition’s failure, NORML’s ability to politically persuade the body politic is greatly hampered by finances that belie the genuine and festering public support in favor of NORML’s reform agenda.
Make a $40 Donation in Support of NORML
Please join my family and I in making a $1 donation to NORML (or the NORML Foundation if you’d like the tax deduction) for every year NORML has been working in the public eye in support of cannabis consumers and to reform our country’s antiquated cannabis laws.
You can make a quick-n-easy online donation here.
On behalf of the membership, NORML’s chapter network (over 150 chapters), NORML Legal Committee of Lawyers (over 600 lawyers nationwide), the board of directors and national staff…thanks very much for making NORML the longstanding and responsible voice for cannabis consumers for forty years!

29 thoughts

  1. What does this sound like: involved in 50%+ home violence, involved in 50%+/- of traffic accidents, kills more people annually than car wrecks, homicide, illicit drug use, and over-the-counter drugs; combined. Certainly we would ‘expect’ a Schedule I narcotic to do such disaster, and we’d never think a non-scheduled drug such as alcohol to be the culprit. Right? Right??

  2. We the People say yes to change, the DEA employee says no we can’t have it or a debate about it. The DEA would like to keep it’s Constructive Fraud intact and around our necks. You could comply or you could sign on with the rest of us to say real clear to the Government, NO WAY EMPLOYEE! Sing this demand for a debate and let him know that bullying will get him no where.

  3. Marijuana & Alcohol: Annual Contributory Deaths Compared To Combat Arrests
    Marijuana use arrests: about 900,000
    Marijuana overdose deaths: 0
    *Percentage of deaths to arrests: 0% (0 is 0% of 900,000)
    Alcohol use arrests (over 21): 0
    Alcohol overdose deaths: 15,000 (just an average, increasingly much higher)
    *Percentage of deaths to arrests: Infinity (15,000 of 0% is technically infinity)
    The definition of insanity is often thought of as repeating the same actions, and expecting different results. Let’s end this infinitely futile Drug War tirade. Replacing current alcohol use with marijuana would clearly, and drastically improve our overall societal safety.

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  5. happy birthday to you, keep up the good fight. dont know what id do without the help and support of orginizations such as this.
    paul anything gonna happen in fl. as far as reform?
    if so how can i help

  6. Wow, NORML is 40 years old today — happy birthday.
    No, really, HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!
    I cannot send you a pony for your birthday, let alone a unicorn (in the form of cannabis re-legalization), but I can mail you a check, if that’s okay?
    NORML has officially become a real social institution, imvho.

  7. Here’s to those people in Montana that believe the rubbish put out by Pharma & Alcohol about Marijuana use escalating or being a problem among kids when it is their drugs that are doing the damage . I hope someone will forward this ( the TRUTH )to the legislators in, Montana
    Posted: 03/02/2011 01:15:25 AM PST
    A Fortuna teenager who was in critical condition last month because he spent the night outside after an evening of binge drinking has fully recovered and is back in school.
    On Feb. 19, Fortuna police and emergency services responded to a call for medical aid at Wake Robin Lane, said Fortuna Police Department Sgt. Jason Kadle. A mother, who went searching for her son after he did not come home the night before, had found him at 11 a.m. He had spent the night outside.
    Lt. Steve Knight of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department said the teenager was medevaced to Children’s Hospital in Oakland and treated for complications due to extreme weather exposure. Being out in the cold all night played a major role in the teenager’s condition, said Knight.
    Humboldt County Coroner David Parris said alcohol and cold weather is a dangerous, often deadly, mix. When someone overdoses on alcohol and is exposed to cold weather, their body will go into shock much quicker than if he or she suffers that same overdose in a warm house, explained Parris. In fact, someone in a warm house with more alcohol in their blood than someone stuck outside all night in frigid temperatures is more likely to survive, he added.
    Thankfully, Knight said, near-tragic incidents like the one that occurred in Fortuna are often preventable.
    ”Parents need to know what their children are doing,” Knight said. “Ask questions. Communicate with your children. Keep the lines
    open, and don’t accept everything they say at face value.”
    Underage drinking has been an issue in Humboldt County for at least the last 25 years, said Knight. This case is more serious because the teenager almost died, but kids drinking too much is nothing new, he added

    I love you guys. I will make a contribution tonight <3.
    Keep up the good fight.

  9. this so cool!!!!! MY BIRTHDAY IS THE SAME AS NORML’S!!!
    march 2. the only difference is that im 26 and norml is 40

  10. Pingback: Norml turns 40 |
  11. …”that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles & organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness. Are we there yet?…. Has this government done enough harm to us?

  12. Way to go Guys! Happy Birthday!!!! 🙂
    Will send in the donation in a few minutes.
    Fight the good fight and everyone will be on your side, fight against the good fight and find the collective mass in your face! Beotches!
    Brian Ankner

  13. A few years ago, narcotics were only prescribed after surgery, severe trauma, or for terminal cancer because of a concern over the possibility of addiction. Recently, they have been cautiously prescribed to treat moderate to severe non-malignant chronic pain in conjunction with other modalities such as physical therapy, cortisone and trigger point injections, muscle stretching, meditation, or aqua therapy. Unfortunately, the upsurge of narcotics as medical treatment also increased associated cases of abuse and addiction.

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