NORML Founder Believes Headway Has Been Made 

NORML Founder Believes Headway Has Been Made 
Posted by CN Staff on April 02, 2005 at 15:19:56 PT
By Chris Durant, The Times-Standard
Source: Times-Standard
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was started in 1970 by Keith Stroup. "We did it as an attempt to create a marijuana smoker's lobby in America," Stroup said.He ran the organization throughout the '70s, and returned as its executive director in 1994. He was replaced as executive director by Allen St. Pierre in January of this year.
Stroup said the idea to start NORML came to him after he graduated from law school and worked on a Ralph Nader project."I was impressed by the political power he developed by arguing on behalf of consumers," Stroup said. "After doing that for a couple years, it seemed to me that we needed to take a similar approach to ending marijuana prohibition. To get the smokers themselves involved in the debate over marijuana policy."Stroup said other people, who probably never smoked marijuana, were making decisions that affected pot smokers. When he first started, Stroup said he believed marijuana would be legal by 1978."I sometimes tell people 'That's my story and I'm sticking with it'" Stroup said. "It's obviously proven to be a much more difficult job than we initially thought."NORML was all by itself on the forefront of the marijuana legalization in the '70s."In the '90s we had a proliferation of front-line reform groups," Stroup said."And a lot of them do really good work."Some of those groups were started by people who worked at NORML, Stroup said."There's a lot of different groups contributing the reform effort," Stroup said."That's healthy, I mean there's no doubt about it."The state and local initiatives are rungs on NORML's ladder to legalization.In the 1970s, a majority of the voting public appeared to be in NORML's corner."By the end of the '70s the concern of the public seemed to have focused more on the kids," Stroup said. "The other side had us on the run. We didn't win a thing."In the mid-1990s, the tide seemed to turn in NORML's favor."We currently enjoy the strongest level of public support," Stroup said. "Our challenge, what we're still having trouble with, is how do we convert that public support into public policy. There's a disconnect, our elected officials are still scared of the issue. We've won the hearts and minds of the American public, now we have to figure out how to turn that into public policy."There is still the awareness of the pendulum possibly swinging the other way again."When you're on the front lines, you might not notice at first," Stroup said."You think you're making progress, but it's not until you take a step back you notice."NORML is the epicenter for efforts throughout the nation on legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana, medicinal or otherwise.Stroup referred to recent defeats and victories."It was a wonderful one in Oakland," Stroup said. "That's actually urging that they go forward with legalization, some sort of regulation."According to NORML statistics, in the United States, 755,000 people were arrested on marijuana-related charges in 2003."Eighty-eight percent of those were for simple possession," Stroup said. "They weren't traffickers, they weren't growers, they were marijuana smokers, people like me."Stroup said the mission might be accomplished when adults can legally buy and smoke marijuana in a responsible manner.Some opponents argue that if marijuana was legal, people would get high and drive."It's never going to be legal for someone who is stoned to drive, and it shouldn't be," Stroup said. "On the other hand, if I'm sitting at home watching a basketball game on the weekend what business is it of the government's if I want to smoke a joint."After 30 years in the trenches, Stroup believes he can put a loose time frame on full legalization."I think within five years we will be in a place in this country where we will essentially stop arresting smokers," Stroup said. "That doesn't mean that every state would officially legalize marijuana."There are 12 states that have decriminalized marijuana."I think within five years we will be up to 20 states," Stroup said.When asked about government regulation, Stroup said a policy would probably be based on the alcohol model."I would hope we might improve on the alcohol-type model a little," Stroup said."For example if we could limit advertising. Advertising doesn't play a helpful role."Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos recently told the Times-Standard that marijuana should be decriminalized, stating, "If it became legal, I certainly think it would reduce some crime."Said Stroup: "He's recognizing that it's never been marijuana that's dangerous, it's the criminal prohibition. People do get shot on the black-market when you're dealing with hundreds of million dollars a year in marijuana that consumers are buying from each other and selling from each other."There's no protection on the black market, Stroup said."You could get ripped off, you could get hurt," Stroup said. "Prohibition increases crime, but marijuana itself is one of the safest substances ever known to man. I think what District Attorney, Mr. Gallegos, has recognized here is that if we decriminalize marijuana we can get rid of a lot of crime."Stroup recognized the importance of Gallegos being from Humboldt County."There's a lot of support for legalizing marijuana in Humboldt County," Stroup said. "I'm delighted to see the prosecutor is not fighting that. Other than Terrance Hallinan (former San Francisco District Attorney) here in San Francisco, I don't know if I can identify another prosecutor in America who has spoken out more forcefully."Complete Title: NORML Founder Believes Headway Has Been Made in Legalization EffortSource: Times-Standard (CA)Author: Chris Durant, The Times-Standard Published: Saturday, April 02, 2005Copyright: 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.Contact: editor times-standard.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Advocates Call for Abolition of Board Day of NORML Conference Cutting Through The Haze, Stage Left - Washington Post
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Comment #7 posted by mayan on April 03, 2005 at 06:04:48 PT
Montana is really giving the PATRIOT Act a good thrashing...House condemns Patriot Act: of Rights Defense Committee:
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Comment #6 posted by mayan on April 03, 2005 at 05:31:57 PT
It's True
"FIRST they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win."August, let's not forget that we've been ignored. We've certainly been laughed at. Lately, it seems we've been getting attacked. According to Gandhi we should soon be winning! unrelated...A little 'Madness' goes with a 'Wicked' opportunity:, NORML!
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Comment #5 posted by unkat27 on April 02, 2005 at 20:48:08 PT
Carter was the Pivot Point
"When he first started, Stroup said he believed marijuana would be legal by 1978."If Carter had been reelected, there was a very good chance it would have been legalized. But recall that in 78 we had the Iran Hostage Crisis and Reagan and Bush started calling Carter a weak leader. Somehow, they spun this into the lie that Carter's support of marijuana decriminalization and legalization was also a weakness, and the new radical right began calling all marijuana users weak freaks and losers and blaming them for EVERYTHING that went wrong after that. God, if only we could go back to those times and stop those muscle-headed morons. For the past 25 years, they have had all the real power in the US government, even when Clinton was elected in '92 they put a gun to his head. Now we have their goddam fear and war-mongering BS and guys like this skumbag marine Maylanet (?) (rhymes with bayonet, figures) murdering helpless muslims and going free with suppressed monkey grins, thinking, "I'm a fuckin US Marine. I can kill any damn muslim sand-nigger I want." And these are the people who have hijacked the US. I really suspect the pope died on April 1st, but they kept it quiet because they were afraid of the April Fools implications. Yeah, we're All Fools, alright. We're damn fools for letting these mass-murdering pigs rule the f___kin world.
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Comment #4 posted by August West on April 02, 2005 at 18:56:41 PT:
A Qoute we all shold believe
"First they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win."
- Gandhi
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Comment #3 posted by goneposthole on April 02, 2005 at 18:48:49 PT
*waking up* *blinking eyes*You mean cannabis is still illegal?Prohibition is still here?Prohibitionists haven't absquatulated?This is an outrage. Somebody call the cops and have them put a stop to these mad dog prohibitionists.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 02, 2005 at 16:08:39 PT
I believe that NORML, MPP and DPA are the leaders in the marijuana reform movement. I believe each organization looks at issues of importance and does their best to achieve the vision they have. I don't agree with all that these organizations have done but they all have tried very hard and that's what's important to me. We try, we fail, we win if we don't quit.
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Comment #1 posted by Taylor121 on April 02, 2005 at 15:48:41 PT
'"I think within five years we will be in a place in this country where we will essentially stop arresting smokers," Stroup said. "That doesn't mean that every state would officially legalize marijuana."There are 12 states that have decriminalized marijuana."I think within five years we will be up to 20 states," Stroup said.
I sure hope he is right about this. That would be quite an accomplishment, add 8 states to the decrim list in 5 years. We really need more people to support NORML, MPP, and DPA. 
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