Spending the Summer Interning with NORML

Marlie Thompson
Marlie Thompson, NORML Summer ’23 Intern

Why were you motivated to apply to intern with NORML?

I was motivated to apply for the NORML internship program so that I could begin working with an advocacy organization that supports marijuana legalization. I was confident that by doing so, I would be able to learn so much about political organizing and the world of drug policy to supplement my education.

As a sociology and public policy student, I admire NORML’s work in providing evidence-based policy recommendations. I applied because my experience with cannabis has been overwhelmingly positive, and I believe it’s important for politicians to see people like myself and my loved ones who can enjoy cannabis while continuing to lead happy, healthy, and responsible lives. 

What did your day-to-day routine look like?

Each morning, I used NORML’s legislation tracking system to record any changes in cannabis policy around the country. I would check in with my other interns and our supervisor, State Policies Manager Jacob McMaster, to see the tasks for the day. Every day was a little different, and some of my favorite tasks included writing and publishing action alerts, researching legislation history, and editing the stories that get posted on NORML’s blog. I also regularly met with NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano to talk about our own experiences in cannabis policy and the changes we want to continue fighting for.

Did the internship meet and/or exceed your expectations? How has it impacted your next steps?

This internship exceeded my expectations because I learned more than I ever thought I could have. Not only did I learn so much about cannabis, but I also gained so much experience in understanding how non-profit advocacy works. NORML included me as an intern not just to do busy work, but to be really involved in their process. This allowed me to connect with the rest of the staff. I hope that the relationships I fostered with the NORML staff will continue to inspire me after my internship ends and as I continue toward a career working in drug policy and fighting the war on drugs.

If you could give any advice to future NORML interns, what would you say?

I would say that new NORML interns should take full advantage of the opportunity before them. Don’t just do the tasks, but really take pride in them and learn as much as you can. Talk to the staff about their experiences working with NORML and about any subjects you’re interested in. NORML does so much, and as a result, the staff has lots of knowledge to share. The internship program gives you an opportunity to learn about it all, from policy, research, and organizing, to even history and science.