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

"In 1968, the federal government was worried about all these kids smoking pot," St. Pierre goes on, "and Dr. Grinspoon was assigned to figure out what was wrong with it. And in the end, he said to the federal government that he couldn't point to anything that said cannabis was dangerous. In fact, it was very close to harmless. And when the federal government said, 'That's not the response we want' and didn't publish his research, he published a book called Marijuana Reconsidered, which had an enormous impact for the movement on an intellectual level." St. Pierre adds that Grinspoon, who's now 82, rarely makes public appearances anymore, lending even more cache to his talk.

lester grinspoon.jpg
Lester Grinspoon.
Full disclosure: I've also been asked to be part of a panel discussion about social media and blogging at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

In regard to NORML marking its 40th birthday this year, St. Pierre concedes that the benchmark is "incredibly bittersweet. The greatest hope of people at NORML to this day is to be able to call the landlord and tell him, 'Take your suite back. Here's the key. We're going home to where we want to live, instead of Washington, because cannabis has been legalized.'"

He concedes that "this political reality is not on the close horizon -- but in the forty years since our founding, we've gone from outright prohibition to a hodgepodge. Thirteen states have decriminalized marijuana, and that covers 130 million Americans. We now have fifteen states and the District of Columbia that have legal protections for qualified medical-marijuana patients, and that covers 90 to 95 million Americans. So a very appreciable portion of the people in the U.S. live in states and municipalities where the law reforms have moved in a way that's beneficial to anyone who is not a partisan against drugs or who doesn't make money off prohibition."

Even so, he acknowledges that only 46 percent of Americans in recent polls support full legalization of marijuana -- and he believes that number must hit 60 percent before this goal will be accomplished. However, he believes "one can get up every day and see the progress -- and that's one thing NORML is proud of. We put the grass in grassroots. The organization is thriving now more than it ever has, and it still serves as the central hub for anything having to do with cannabis."

Which makes Denver the center of the marijuana universe this week -- although some advocates argue that's the case every week.

The registration fee for the conference as a whole is $225. Click here for info.

More from our Marijuana archive: "High Times Cannabis Cup report: Pot critic William Breathes catches the buzz (PHOTOS)."

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6 comments
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.

toker
toker

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.

Robert
Robert

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.

Stan
Stan

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

Robert
Robert

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 (http://www.facebook.com/video/... 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

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