We are spearheading a citizens’ movement. If you care about fighting the racism, mass incarceration, and injustice our current laws cause—and if you care about civil liberties—NORML is fighting for you.
For me, my work with NORML is a civic duty. I care about fighting racism; about replacing a black market that empowers and enriches gangs and organized crime with a legal one that produces good jobs and lots of tax revenue; and about defending our civil liberty to simply enjoy the recreational use of marijuana if we want to.
Ironically, the marijuana legalization issue, which was a "hot button" political issue for decades, the discussion of which could almost be guaranteed to destroy a Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, may now become fertile common ground where those of us who may not agree on some other important issues, nonetheless can congregate and begin to rebuild a sense of community.
This long slow trudge to overcome the misinformation and exaggerated fears about marijuana smoking, and to convert citizens from prohibitionists to legalizers, did not happen on its own. It was the result of the effective public advocacy and lobbying efforts of hundreds of dedicated individuals who made this issue a priority in their lives and refused to accept the status quo, even in a difficult political environment.
Rick was both a principal sponsor and a major financial supporter of the successful Washington state marijuana legalization initiative approved by the voters of his state in 2012, making Washington, along with Colorado, the first two states to end criminal prohibition and replace it with a legal regulated system.
One of them grabbed me by the shoulder, showed me his police badge and shouted, “You are old enough to know better than to be smoking marijuana,” as he placed me under arrest…They seemed far more upset that two old men were smoking pot!
Of the several experts who were part of our regular “road show” at NORML during the 1970s, I wanted to focus today on two of them who were both unexpected and wonderfully effective — Dr. Dorthy Whipple and former DEA Deputy Director John Finlator.
John Lennon obviously thought something good might result from his focusing national attention on this unjust prison sentence for a minor marijuana offense, but I suspect he was as pleasantly shocked as the rest of us when, shortly following the event, the Michigan Supreme Court took action to free John Sinclair.