NORML is perhaps the most influential cannabis reform organization in the USA and Europe. The relevance and importance of this non-for-profit organization lies in their desire to incorporate marijuana in the American lifestyle as something normal. To learn all about this group and how they participate in law reform, check out this article!
Founded in the heart of student activism in the 1970s, NORML was the first non-for-profit organization that was exclusively dedicated to cannabis legalization. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has been one of the loudest voices for cannabis law reform in the USA and around the world.
NORML’s objective is not just to provide safe and accessible marijuana to the public, but to be involved in the shift of public opinion. For the founders of this organization, putting people in prisons for the use and possession of marijuana is just about barbaric. And much of their work is with those who have been victims of outdated laws.
Despite the fact that there are now so many lobbyists and activism groups fighting for marijuana legalization, NORML is still relevant and impactful. The organization remains as the oldest lobby group, and still has one of the most powerful voices in the journey towards cannabis legalization in the USA.
The founder’s story
NORML was founded by a man called Keith Stroup in the 1970s. He studied law in Washington DC and political science in Illinois. His first jobs in the field of law sparked an interest for him in the concept of product safety. These tweaked interests and passions, along with the assistance of some passionate friends, was the beginning of NORML.
When Stroup was first dreaming of this organization, the overwhelming majority of Americans were against the legalization of pot. Needless to say, many were being arrested and punished under strict laws. Stroup and his co-founders believed that their legal skills could help those who fell victim to the hands of the law.
The main source of funding to start this non-for-profit organization came from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy. Without this funding, Stroup might never have had the money to get the project off the ground. Within a couple of years, the USA was already undergoing major changes in the way that cannabis law was expressed.
“It’s NORML To Smoke Pot” is not just Keith Stroup’s life motto, but also the name of his book. This book was the first ever account of Stroup’s journey from being a lawyer to being a cannabis activist, and the 40 years he spent fighting for marijuana policy.
At the end of the day, Stroup believed in the liberties of every cannabis smoker in the USA. The harsh drug laws and penalties that were exercised in the hippie revolution in the 70’s inspired the journey that was to come. That journey has essentially led us here, to the modern age of cannabis legalization and individual freedom.
What does NORML advocate?
When it comes to the goals of NORML, their goals and aspirations are varied. But one thing remains certain. The objective is the responsible use of cannabis. While NORML completely backs the individual freedom to use marijuana, this organization has developed a scheme that fits into the social system.
NORML advocates the use of cannabis for adults, and does not support access to minors. Into their philosophy of responsible use also comes staying off the road under the influence of marijuana. Cannabis users shouldn’t be driving while they are high.
While NORML recognizes the power of marijuana as medicine and a healthier alternative to alcohol when it comes to recreation, the organization also recognizes the potential for abuse. Harnessing the power of cannabis also means knowing when to stop, to refrain from letting it get in the way of any kind of personal development or achievement.
Finally, nowhere in NORML’s philosophy are cannabis users more important than those who don’t use. Everybody’s rights should be respected. That means cannabis users should be free to use, but to respect the rights of those who don’t want to or don’t like it!
NORML and law reform
The path by which NORML expects to achieve the goals we talked about above is essentially law reform. Without a very critical review of the law, there can’t really be any change for those who want safe access to marijuana.
One of the most noteworthy lobbies that NORML led was a petition to Barack Obama. It essentially facilitated the movement from marijuana as a criminal topic to a health topic. And from what we observe in American politics, the term that Obama spent in office was the most lucrative and expansive time for the marijuana industry.
NORML also defended athlete Michael Phelps after testing positive to marijuana saw him lose his Olympic medal. But as we all know, Phelps isn’t the only victim of strict cannabis law. So many Americans have been imprisoned at the hands of old, out-dated and barbaric marijuana laws. One of NORML’s main actions is to work with those who have already suffered at the hands of the law.
Cannabis reform that fits into society
The reason that NORML is so influential and relevant is because there is nothing “flashy” about it. The organization is willing to work with the government to make cannabis a normal part of society, rather than a glorified and overdone industry. NORML doesn’t advocate for anything special, rather that it is simply… normal!
There is no opposition to taxing marijuana, making it illegal to smoke and drive, or even to limit the number of licenses for people to grow cannabis commercially. In fact, NORML sees all of these limitations as what is going to make cannabis the same as any other industry in the USA.
NORML literally has the power to enter into negotiations with the government because they do not want to glorify the marijuana industry as the best, or the biggest, or even turning it into activism. They simply want to turn it into something normal, a value that is perhaps missed in many other organizations of this kind.
What has NORML achieved?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact achievements of NORML, because the majority of their work has taken place through activism and lobbying.
Petitions have been the main objective for NORML. As we discussed earlier in the article, the petition made to Obama was successful, not in that any solid change took place, but that it changed the opinion of some people.
The main objective of NORML is to make cannabis normal in the eyes of the public, the media and the government. Perhaps the way NORML works is through the individual, opening their eyes to the possibility of cannabis legalization.
At the end of the day, the public has a big say in matters like this, and the media is the biggest facilitator of public opinion. And without any doubt, NORML has had some media attention.
The future of pot
NORML sees a bright future for marijuana, even despite Donald Trump’s opinion about cannabis in the USA. So much has been achieved in the last two decades that it’s likely the point is going to arrive where the federal government wants a slice of the pie.
Essentially, too much movement has taken place for the USA to move backwards. As cannabis education continues and the public opinion changes, NORML really expects that using marijuana both medically and recreationally will become commonplace.