New NORML Executive Director Talks 

New NORML Executive Director Talks 
Posted by CN Staff on April 03, 2005 at 09:18:25 PT
By Chris Durant, The Times-Standard 
Source: Times-Standard
Allen St. Pierre has been with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws since 1991, when he was hired on as the communications director.In January he was named as the organization's new executive director, taking the reigns from NORML's founder Keith Stroup and guiding a movement that after three decades has its most momentum to date.
"NORML is essentially an institution at this point," St. Pierre said. "It's a brand, people know what it is, they know what we do and yet they don't see it on TV, they don't hear it on the radio and they don't pick it up and see it in the newspaper."How NORML has maintained its long-term successes is rare for Washington lobbying groups."It really has no advertising budget what so ever, it enjoys no institutional funding," St. Pierre said. "It gets all of its resources from marijuana consumers and those who are very sympathetic toward civil liberties."St. Pierre said that most of the opposition hasn't just been on the federal government level."It can be found in other institutions like medical societies, the alcohol and tobacco lobby, the pharmaceutical lobby," St. Pierre said.The choice to hold this year's conference in San Francisco is symbolic because of the city's association with the movement through the years. As one conference panelist said, the rest of the nation's marijuana law reform advocates need to thank San Francisco and Californians for being at the forefront of the legalization efforts since the 1960s.St. Pierre said there were six to eight people at this year's conference who were at the first "People's Pot Conference" in Washington, D.C. in 1970."We're now into third generation of marijuana activists," St. Pierre said. "If you look closely you will see people walking around with their daughters. These are the daughters of the activists."Though the reform movement is probably the strongest it's ever been, there are problems that concern St. Pierre. He said recent headway has been marred by compromises made with legislatures."It doesn't establish a core constituency value," St. Pierre said.He used a hypothetical situation from the 1960s civil rights movement to illustrate his point."It'd be hard to imagine in the 1960s, a political deal cut by Martin Luther King and the NAACP, to allow blacks to have votes if, for example, they signed contracts never to date white women."Some of the recent victories throughout the country have been almost ornamental and are a concern for St. Pierre and NORML."We don't just run somewhere and declare that we changed the law when that really hasn't happened," St. Pierre said.Lawmakers aren't listening to their constituents, he said."Why is it that you can put 200,000 people in the Seattle park system for a day for a marijuana legalization festival and still not have politicians follow," St. Pierre said. "Those that are really effected by the laws and want the laws to reflect their own consumer values should want to push it forward."The laws in some states are deceptive and backwards. St. Pierre used the laws in Ohio as an example, a state he said has arguably the best marijuana law in the country. People there will get a $200 to $400 fine if they're caught with up to three and a half ounces of pot."However, if you get caught with a rolling paper on you, or even an unused piece of paraphernalia, you're going to get arrested, you're going to through a fine and you're going to lose your license to drive for six months," St. Pierre said. "You get punished more for a piece of metal (paraphernalia) than you do for the actual drug."He tied the Ohio example into what he was talking about the compromise problem for the movement."You got to stop thinking about punishment as just being put in a jail cell," St. Pierre said.He said penalties like losing driver's licenses are tools of the government.During his tenure he wants to stop making the compromises like in Ohio."We might have to bite the bullet for a year or two to pass federal legislation," St. Pierre said.When he started at NORML, someone pulled St. Pierre aside and said that he was working like he was running a sprint."He said I should seriously consider developing a marathon philosophy," St. Pierre said. "Start thinking in the long haul. Let's not just pass a law and declared that we prevailed. If very few people are affected by it than did we really have the overall scope of effect we wanted to?"Another current setback for NORML is the lack of diversity in the marijuana law reform movement."It's a huge problem," St. Pierre said. "Here we are in a pretty diverse town and we find, disappointingly, that the vast amount of the crowd is white, middle class and male."It's a problem around the country, he said."We fail," St. Pierre said. "The whole drug policy movement. Every single organization fails to reach out to the black, Latino and women."St. Pierre has made it one of his goals to change that."We will not change marijuana laws because a very rich person hands over a bunch of money," St. Pierre said.People of all kinds taking the issue to the streets, through protests and grass roots efforts, is the future if the movement, St. Pierre believes.One suggestion he had was a marijuana dating service."It's not as absurd as it sounds," St. Pierre said. "It happens in Christian communities, it happens is ethnic communities. Why not pair these two people up with the common denominator and have two people working for it?"California is a launching pad for the movement."It makes up a fifth of the U.S.," St. Pierre said. "So if you're going to do something, do it where you can hit it out of the park."During the conference, nearly every speaker was given a standing ovation and the shouts from the crowd reflected the spirit of the marijuana activists.About 500 people from across the United States attended the 2005 NORML conference and were motivated, informed and armed with the information and connections they needed to keep the movement fueled for years.Complete Title: New NORML Executive Director Talks of The Groups Longevity, Future Source: Times-Standard (CA)Author: Chris Durant, The Times-Standard Published: Sunday, April 03, 2005Copyright: 2005 MediaNews Group, Inc.Contact: editor times-standard.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Founder Believes Headway Made Advocates Call for Abolition of Board Day of NORML Conference Cutting Through The Haze
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 06, 2005 at 11:08:25 PT
Press Release from The Drug Policy Alliance
Alliance Staff Join Hundreds for NORML ConferenceWednesday, April 6, 2005Last week nearly 500 activists, doctors, patients, concerned citizens, and a contingent of Alliance staff gathered in San Francisco for the NORML Conference.
 The conference was pleasant, peaceful and educational, and things ran smoothly throughout the three days of events. The host hotel was extremely accommodating and made sure attendees – including patients – were as comfortable as possible. The panel discussions were captivating and well-attended with both the “Marijuana and Good Health” and “Marijuana Docs Under the Gun” panels being very well received. The “Student Activism” breakout included a snapshot of up-and-coming drug policy reformers, including the Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico's Gabby Guzzardo, who worked with Alliance New Mexico Director Reena Szczepanski to make tremendous progress for medical marijuana legislation in New Mexico earlier this year. 
Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann gave a rousing speech on the second day of the conference, connecting marijuana reform to the broader drug reform debate before a spellbound audience that is traditionally focused more exclusively on marijuana issues. In an equally stirring presentation, Safety First Director Marsha Rosenbaum spoke with dignity and passion about drug testing, youth and censorship issues. Finally, the third day began with a controversial panel discussion about drugged driving, in which Alliance staffers Caren Woodson and Ed Orlett discussed the Alliance's efforts to curb disastrous legislation that could jeopardize responsible marijuana users.
 The Alliance was excited to be part of this year's event. With increased attendance at the conference by women and African-Americans this year, and press coverage by every newspaper in the Bay area, the reform message seems to be spreading ever-wider.
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Comment #3 posted by Nick Thimmesch on April 06, 2005 at 01:33:41 PT:
I resemble...
...that remark:"A powerful high at much smaller doses than expected, causing uncontrolled laughter, severe anxiety, loss of motor skills and other effects"
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on April 03, 2005 at 23:37:48 PT
New Neil News
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on April 03, 2005 at 22:48:14 PT
Washington Post: THC Gets Unexpected High 
Monday, April 4, 2005; Page A08 Swiss researchers say the experience of two research subjects indicates that medicinal marijuana and marijuana-based drinks can sometimes trigger a powerful high at much smaller doses than expected, causing uncontrolled laughter, severe anxiety, loss of motor skills and other effects. The two subjects were in a study of eight men given either a form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, or a placebo. They developed the side effects about an hour after ingesting the drug. One reported that he was "watching himself lying on the bed," and the other became suspicious that researchers were concealing some problems from him. Both were unable to complete simple tasks involving physical activities and sign recognition. The investigators, from the Institut Universitaire de Médecine Légale in Lausanne, said the study was unusual in that the subjects were being carefully monitored and the levels of THC in their blood were well-measured. To their surprise, the researchers found that the two subjects achieved a "high" at THC concentrations in the blood well below 10 nanograms per milliliter, the level considered necessary to produce that response. The two subjects had levels of 4.7 and 6.2. People smoking marijuana will generally become high more quickly and with greater intensity than those taking it orally as medicine, or as the increasingly popular South Asian drink bhang -- making the reaction of the two Swiss subjects even more unexpected. The research, reported in the journal BMC Psychiatry, led the authors to conclude that both doctors and users had to be more aware of potentially significant reactions that can occur from marijuana drinks and THC-based medications. -- Marc Kaufman Copyright: 2005 The Washington Post Company
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