First Hand, “First-Timer” Lobby Day Recap

On Sunday, January 21st & Monday the 22nd, NORML members along with non-member cannabis-reform-supporters gathered at the general assembly in Virginia for a Lobby Day. I [Nicole] was among the participants in this specific effort to advocate for marijuana legislative reform. Having lived in Virginia my whole life and being a current constituent of Representative Tim Hugo [R] and Senator David Marsden [D], this definitely felt like my call-to-action. This was my first time lobbying, and I am grateful my introductory experience was in support of sensible cannabis reform, something I so vehemently endorse on a personal level.

Our purpose in gathering was in order to influence, and essentially demand, lawmaker support for HB 1251, and SB 111. These legislative works would legalize medical cannabis oil under physician recommendation [to include all diagnoses, not just intractable epilepsy] as well as decriminalize simple possession charges, respectively.

If you have ever considered joining the marijuana movement, but don’t think you know enough to contribute effectively or even where to begin, never fear! On Sunday I was among numerous fellow supporters in attendance of a conference orchestrated by Virginia NORML’s Executive Director, Jenn Michelle Pedini. There, keynote speakers covered marijuana policy, how to effectively persuade with facts and knowledge regarding marijuana, and went on to take an in-depth look at how prohibition has negatively affected citizens and society. This abundantly informative and motivational colloquium couldn’t have prepared me more to speak with lawmakers and provided great relief to an otherwise intimidating situation. Let’s say hypothetically you have absolutely no interest in lobbying for marijuana reform. Attending the conference portion is still extremely enlightening, and I would recommend it to supporters and prohibitionists alike. A little extra knowledge never hurt anyone, right?

While at the capitol building, I had great conversations with both Rep. Tim Hugo and Sen. David Marsden. Although it was still a bit nerve-racking to be in front of these prestigious figures; I am confident that I was able to effectively communicate the message of necessary marijuana reform in conjunction with the legislation denoted above [greatly due in part to the preparation I received at the conference], and have gained their support on these issues. This has been an experience I will never forget, and I will be sure to seize the chance at every opportunity to do it again in the future. NORML lobby day in any state is the opportunity to affect change and be part of history. Please join us, and we can make it happen together!

Nicole Powell is a current intern at the National NORML office, as well as a current collegiate-level honors student. She has been “saved from a life of opioid drug abuse & dependence due to medical cannabis therapy” [to which she became at serious risk of after a major vehicular accident], in addition to the various other drastic medical benefits cannabis has provided to her after this accident.

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16 thoughts

  1. Way to go Nicole!

    Remember to follow up! Keep the pressure on, but following up is really to help your Congressman… and the pending legislation… stay on track. PLEASE emphasize and advocate the need for adequate 3rd party quality testing for marijuana in your lobbying efforts. Here in Texas we have a similar uphill battle as Virginia without voter initiatives, except that you managed to get some marijuana reforming state legislators elected in earlier than us. And hey; Vermont just passed legslatively enacted depenalization and cultivation. We’ve got momentum now!

    With you working at National NORML youre surrounded by people who can help you write legislation. Learn how to do that! It will empower you… and all of us in our movement.

    We know you won’t be an intern forever; not getting paid only works through college… 😉
    … but look at this way: you didn’t have to pay tuition to NORML and look at what you became confident of and learned how to do! Bless you for what you do! Thank you!

  2. Way to fight for that great and harmless Plant with its hundreds of medicinal properties. And for all those who doubt this without ever trying it. Don’t criticize what you don’t understand. Get educated.

  3. Way to go Nicole keep fighting the good fight. Tell these people to leave our plant alone. Nobody will force you to smoke it. And for all you reefer madness believers educate yourselves you look extremely foolish with your lame statements with no facts to back them up. Don’t criticize what you don’t understand.

  4. It’s great to hear persons are working diligently for the cannabis cause. I wish we would have more lobbying for the root cause of cannabis prohibition which is the unconstitutional law prohibiting cannabis from American citizens and arresting and incarcerating them over this benign plant.

    Completely unscheduling cannabis from the Control Substances Act(CSA) = No more arrests and open banking for new cannabis businesses. There is nothing less to demand from this point on.

    Lobbying for CBD oil really benefits the privileged pharmaceutical companies currently lining up to jump on board the FDA cannabis party train to rake in their billions. An yet still arrest American citizens for this benign plant?

    Congress needs to step up and stand up and stop the slOOOOw approach. We need a new movement. A movement of voices of the people alongside our congress demanding a swift end to cannabis prohibition which also would help American farmers.

    Stop the madness end cannabis prohibition now. Put this plant back in the hands of the people where it belongs.

  5. First or second time citizen marijuana lobbyist in Texas?

    Now is the time to vet our candidates. Tomorrow I will be meeting with State Representative Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs who is running for Lamar Smith’s retiring federal House seat. I intend to thank him furst for supporting medical marijuana and decriminalization policies to keep Texans alive and well and in the workplace. Then I’ll ask him if he will continue these policies at the federal level. Finally I’ll put him on the spot to attend Texas NORML’s candidate Forum this Wednesday at the Flamingo Cantina on 6th st in Austin at 5pm:

    The line up is looking more like a “Which Democrat has better marijuana policy” competition. Two of the 9 attendees are incumbents. I’m waiting for one of the candidates to spark it up on stage. With media showing up it’s gonna get packed tighter than a fat bud in a one-hitter so get there early. (I told Jax we really gotta find bigger conference rooms… I’m not even sure libraries are big enough anymore…)

    The “Which Democrat” competition heated up in the Democratic Governor’s debate:

    Valdez says she is for medical.

    Wakely said he’s for full legalization and said he would veto “white supremacists” in the state legislature. Damn. He went there.

    1. O Gawd Julian don’t forget to warn the tightly packed attendees to first handgrindsift their herb through #1/16th-inch-mesh screening to get a vapeworthy particle surface area, and then insert NO MORE THAN 25 MG at a time in a #40-screened oneheater with a long flexible drawtube attached to its butt (sucking) end.
      And to suck slow enough to vape not burn, but if some ignites, slow enough to keep the creepalong combustion temperature under 420-F.
      Afterwards “breathe 30 warm wet W’s in and out of a breathbonnet [breadbag] in honour of the Dawgwagner”.

  6. Hows this for a quick response to a citizen lobbyist?;

    Executive Director Jax Finkle and Executive Director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy Heather Fazio and I were just discussing this past Monday when Bexar County and the city of San Antonio were going to implement their new decrim policy. So I went into action and shared the email of Mrs. Martha Vasquez, Media laison for the DA and Sherrif’s office for Bexar County. In my email I politely followed up by asking when?

    2 days later, Bexar County gets to take classes instead of getting an arrest record for under 4oz! Thems sum reSULTS!

  7. Hello all, it’s Nicole.

    I wanted to thank everyone for all of your kindness and support, it means a lot! I will most definitely be applying your very helpful suggestions to my current and future advocacy efforts.

    Many blessings to all!

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