NORML 40th anniversary conference in Denver preview: A celebration of cannabis commerce

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According to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), today's 4/20 bashes in Denver and Boulder are the biggest rallies of their type "on earth." And he expects that they'll ready the faithful for NORML's 40th annual conference, April 21-23 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Why was Denver chosen for the convention?

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Allen St. Pierre.
"The State of Colorado has the most advanced cannabis commerce system in the United States -- love it or hate it," notes St. Pierre, who just arrived in Colorado from Washington, D.C., where NORML is based. "It's also in clear violation of federal and international laws. Even in the Netherlands, when one goes into a coffee shop, as they're known, they can purchase as much cannabis as they like -- but there, we're told sales are tolerated, and there's no taxation system. But here, we have Mr. Hartman and Mr. Cook" -- a reference to the Department of Revenue's Dan Hartman and Matt Cook -- "and they're collecting revenue for the state.

"Everyone points to California as the place where all this began politically, and they should," he goes on. "But Colorado, unlike California, actually stepped up to create a mature reply to a sociopolitical public-health quandary and created a taxation and regulatory scheme. So we brought the conference here to acknowledge this, to learn from it, and in some respects, to honor it."

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Montel Williams.
Is the conference also meant to salute those mammoth 4/20 rallies, too? Not exactly, St. Pierre acknowledges. Many folks on the NORML staff feel there's so much going on around 4/20 that it's tougher to get attention for the conference. But the NORML board has also received complaints from marijuana cultivators that conferences staged in September and October, as they've been in recent years, fall smack dab in the middle of growing season. So after plenty of debate, they decided to embrace the 4/20 hoopla -- which is being covered by numerous mainstream networks this year, including Spike and G4 -- rather than shying away from it.

The agenda is certainly packed. Among the sessions St. Pierre highlights is a Denver mayoral debate slated for 12:30 p.m. tomorrow, to be emceed by veteran talk-show host Montell Williams; the High Times and NORML Activist Awards and Art Auction at 7 p.m. that evening, featuring a special acoustic performance by Ziggy Marley; a cannabis-and-commerce panel on Saturday; a keynote luncheon featuring Representative Jared Polis; and an appearance by Lester Grinspoon, a retired Harvard professor who St. Pierre calls "probably the most respected author and researcher on the topic of cannabis in our lifetime."

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NORML go home
NORML go home

NORML supported HB1261, the THC/DUI bill. Oh wait, NORML was "neutral" on 1261 the THC/DUI bill, saying they refused to come out against it cuz it would make it look like they supported impaired driving (!?!?). They said that 1261's passage was a "done deal" and that the battle had "already been lost." Well, with a lot of grassroots organizing efforts, with NO HELP FROM NORML, the patients killed 1261 in committee. NORML: GO HOME! Stop interfering in Colorado politics. If we would have listened to you, we'd all be forced to have our blood drawn for THC at every traffic stop. Because the people in Colorado didn't cave in like NORML wanted them to, we killed the THC/DUID bill, at least for now. Support organizations that actually fight for your rights, not bend over and give in at the first sign of a battle.


40 years of NORML and has anyone asked when NORML last took legal action on behalf of the millions of cannabis users in our nation? Wasn't their last lawsuit in 1984? Yeah, it's that hazy for me too.

So un informed they come to Denver to celebrate the general assembly's passing of unconstitutional mmj statutes and Matt Cook and Dan Hartman's Orwellian regulations.

40 years of t-shirt sales and NO REAL ACTION to change marijuana laws, locally or nationally. Sure they have a nice list of criminal defense attorneys who are more than willing to take your money, but if you need them it's already too late for you, as you have been busted. How hard is it to find attorneys to take busted pot clients? Shouldn't be too hard since there is a pot arrest every 27 seconds nationwide.

The key word is defense. Why isn't NORML working offensively?

Is this a midlife crises for NORML? All NORML has is left is name recognition--but who recognizes this NORML?

Does 40 years of existence mean NORML is winning or losing in marijuana reform?

Boycott Robert Chase
Boycott Robert Chase

Yes, join Mr. Chase so he can lash out angrily at you when you share an opinion different than his. After all, this is about Robert Chase.


NORML does have a long history. Allen St. Pierre shilling for Romer's unconstitutional scheme ("But Colorado, unlike California, actually stepped up to create a mature reply to a sociopolitical public-health quandary and created a taxation and regulatory scheme. So we brought the conference here to acknowledge this, to learn from it, and in some respects, to honor it.") is one more instance of craven arrogance on the part of national drug policy organizations, which ignore the legal realities of what has been happening here, fly in the face of patients' interests, and demean caregivers. I very much hope that Montel Williams is aware of informed criticism from within Colorado -- he should consult Laura Kriho, myself, or Rob Corry, because we have not been compromised and we are minutely informed about the legal and political situation regarding cannabis in Colorado. If what Allen said above were true, Chris Romer would be a likely choice of patients for Mayor, but he is not; we all know him for the rankest opportunistic prohibitionist that he is!

Mr. St. Pierre's recent public comments call into question both the national character of NORML ( and its commitment to legalizing cannabis (the video of his appearance on the Dr. Oz show has been removed from youtube -- Allen agrees emphatically that it is too easy to get marijuana in California). NORML's Board of Directors should be using the occasion of this meeting to choose a replacement for him; for my part, I wonder whether Allen receives a supplement from the DEA. "We are all for legalizing cannabis" -- if that is true, NORML will find leaders who do not repeat what prohibitionists say and do not endorse the abrogation of constitutional rights out of a poorly informed sense of expediency.

Robert ChaseColorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers(720) 213-6497


I thought it was about Allen St. Pierre and the leadership of NORML. I offer up my expertise for the enlightenment of those who agree with me that cannabis should be legal, not by way of self-promotion.


You seem agitated. Perhaps you should stop your bitching and smoke a J...

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