Topsy-Turvy Times for Pot Advocates 

  Topsy-Turvy Times for Pot Advocates 

Posted by CN Staff on April 21, 2003 at 20:09:31 PT
By Ulysses Torassa, Chronicle Health Writer 
Source: San Francisco Chronicle  

Now, it seems, is the best of times, and the worst of times, for the marijuana movement. While most Americans say they support medical marijuana, the federal government has won several high-profile criminal cases against cannabis clubs and pot growers in the past year. With staunch social conservatives like Attorney General John Ashcroft at the helm of federal law enforcement, Keith Stroup, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says it's hard to know just how much longer marijuana advocates can ride the current momentum in their favor. 
"The political climate is very strange right now," said Stroup, who was in San Francisco Sunday for NORML's annual convention, held at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. "We've got more public support for our issue than we've ever had, but on the street level, the feds have been kicking our butts out here." Nearly 500 people converged on San Francisco for the four-day event, scheduled to coincide with April 20, the unofficial holiday for pot smokers. The date is derived from the phrase "420," a shorthand code coined more than 30 years ago by a group of San Rafael High School students who gathered at 4: 20 p.m. to get high. Indeed, the final day of the conference was scheduled to end precisely at 4: 20 p.m. "It's like 'Miller Time,' " Stroup explained. "Time to kick up your heels and light up a joint." Like Stroup, who founded NORML in 1970, marijuana activism has matured and aged. The movement had many successes in its early days, when several states, including California, decriminalized simple pot possession. But with the dawning of the conservative "Just Say No" 1980s, public support dried up and the movement limped along until the mid-1990s, when medical marijuana activism helped create a new atmosphere of legitimacy. Although NORML's official membership is just 10,000, Stroup said more than 40,000 people have signed up for the group's Internet newsletter, up from 7, 000 just a few years ago. And while endorsing NORML's message in public was once a kiss of death for a celebrity's career, the group has had recent success in attracting people like actor Daniel Stern, TV host Bill Maher and former Dallas Cowboy player Mark Stepnoski to its advisory board. And drug reform causes have also begun to attract some serious money. Financier George Soros and Peter Lewis of Progressive Auto Insurance have both poured millions into drug legalization efforts, though NORML itself hasn't received much of that largesse. Instead, it subsists on about a $1 million annual budget and prides itself on being the voice of the average pot smoker, Stroup said. Snipped: Complete Article: Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)Author: Ulysses Torassa, Chronicle Health WriterPublished: Monday, April 21, 2003 Copyright: 2003 San Francisco Chronicle - Page B - 1 Contact: letters sfchronicle.comWebsite: Article & Web Site:NORML To Basics: NORML Conference 2003 NORML Archives

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Comment #10 posted by FoM on April 23, 2003 at 20:04:14 PT
Thanks Richard
I looked at the slide show. It sure looks like everyone had a nice time. Get rested up. After an event like the conference I would be so tired. I spent a few hours mowing today and I'm beat from sitting on a mower and going round and round. I'm just not as fit as I was years ago. 
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Comment #9 posted by Richard Lake on April 23, 2003 at 19:36:17 PT:
NORML conference pictures, and interviews
Still digging thru my own pictures, but already note that it it was too dark for many of the indoor pictures - sigh!Our friends in Washington state have posted this slide collection:Some pics from S.F. norml conf. enjoy. We did. Dean writes:NOTICE:
4:20 Drug War News and the Cultural Baggage one hour shows this week feature interviews with those attending the recent San Francisco NORML Conference.
3 minute "4:20" news spots on mp3 are available at
Monday features Dennis Perron. Tuesday has Richard Cowan of and Canadian Senator Pierre Nolin. Wednesday Elvy Musika, one of the 7 federal MMJ patients is online. Thursday, medical patients William Britt and Jackie Rickert say their piece. Friday has Shawn Heller of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Steph Sherer of Americans for Safe Access. 
Friday night on Cultural Baggage we have a SPECIAL hour of interviews with patients, providers, reformers, cops and many more and our special guests will be San Francisco District Attorney Terrance Hallinan as well as a representative of the upcoming Saturday "Texans Rally for Treatment Over Incarceration for Drug Offenders". Listen live at 12 midnight on Friday to 1 AM Saturday CST on KPFT Houston, 90.1 FM or live, online at
 All shows are stored online as well. 
 The Cultural Baggage shows are at
 4:20 news spots are stored at
 Any questions regarding these programs should be directed to Dean Becker at 281-752-9198 or via email at dean
 Please alert others to the Friday night Special on Cultural Baggage - The Unvarnished Truth about the Drug War.
 Thank you!
 Dean Becker
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on April 22, 2003 at 14:17:11 PT
Welcome Home Richard!
Can't wait to see the pictures. I keep think that last year you had to drive thru a snow storm. Maybe I'm wrong but it keeps popping into my head. Thanks for letting me know CNews was mentioned too. That makes me feel good. I sent you an email but Matt has everything fixed. Site crashed on Friday morning! I had a few days to catch up on my house cleaning! LOL!
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Comment #7 posted by Richard Lake on April 22, 2003 at 14:11:48 PT:
Hi, CNEWS Gang!
Just got back from the conference. Because of some weather problem I missed my connection from Chicago to Milwaukee, had to stay over night in Chicago. Sucked big time.But the conference was very good. CNEWS mentioned by speakers a good number of times. The MAP/DrugSense presentations went well, IMHO.With all the recording going on I hope we see video or audio of some of the sessions up at the NORML website soon.In due time one of the HTML experts, probably Jo-D, will put together a collection of the best conf. pictures we can get out hands on for a webpage.I have well over a hundred 1024x768 pictures but I need to get them off the camera, and get those worth looking at together. I plan to zip up a package these, fairly large so not appropriate for most dial up folks (unless you are willing to wait for a large download).No plans to title the set, but will send it to anyone who emails me asking. If you ask, expect to get an email with a huge .zip attachment by the end of the week.Oh, Dean Becker did a whole lot of interviews for his radio show. He will be using many of these on the show this Friday and the one two weeks from this FridayRichard
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on April 22, 2003 at 11:26:36 PT
Welcome Home Gary!
Please post the link to the pictures when you get them on line. I'm glad you had a good time! 
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Comment #5 posted by Gary Storck on April 22, 2003 at 11:10:38 PT
A great conference!
Jacki and I returned late last night. What a great conference this year, and how excellent to see old and meet new friends. I think the NORML Conf should be in San Francisco until prohibition ends. No friendlier town!Look for IMMLY's pix in a few days ay!
Is My Medicine Legal YET?
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 22, 2003 at 08:28:32 PT

Welcome Home Nicholas!
I didn't see the title you mentioned. I know the LA Times has a feature article about Steve Kubby a while back and the title was Home is where the Hash is but they changed it to Home is where the Heart is. I left the first name of the article in place.Hope you had a great time at the conference. 
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Comment #3 posted by Nicholas Thimmesch on April 22, 2003 at 08:23:30 PT:

The SF Chronicle...
...also had a different headline on an earlier edition we saw while leaving SFO: "Schizophrenic Times for Pot Advocates". Somebody in the PC Department of the Chron must have nixed the continuation of THAT headline (i.e. offensive to schizopherenics, I guess). Go figure.....
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 21, 2003 at 23:01:17 PT

I'm glad you're glad we are back up and running. I always have believed that difficult times can strengthen us. I learn patience and how to adapt from times like we just went thru. I'm watching the Pot-TV show now. I knew that what was wrong with CNews wasn't very serious and I knew when Matt got home he'd fix it right away. Check out the articles tomorrow because they're back! Yippie!
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on April 21, 2003 at 22:53:59 PT:

The Pot TV News for April 21, 2003
The Pot TV News for April 21, 2003
Pot TV News with Steve and Michele Kubby 
Running Time: 20 min 
TODAY'S GUESTS: SENATOR NOLAN, KEITH STROUP AND PHIL LUCAS Captured live at the NORML Conference. See and hear two of the leading lights in the cannabis legalization struggle.ego destruction or ego transcendence, that is the question.BTW, It is good, it is very good to have Cannabis News fully back "on the air." Thanks Matt, and thanks for hanging in there FoM. Too many articles for me to read tonight, I'll check more later.
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