Like Alcohol in the 20s, Marijuana today faces a failing prohibition against its use, sale and cultivation. Fueled, originally, by false information and scare tactics, the U.S. Government made Marijuana illegal. Since its foundation in 1970, however, NORML, a Washington D.C. based non-profit public-interest advocacy group, has been fighting to reform marijuana laws throughout our great nation. While Marijuana prohibition is widely acknowledged to have failed, our Federal and State laws (for the most part) still punish possession, use, sale and growing extremely heavily. These laws lead to high incarceration rates, they force Marijuana users to resort to dealing with “drug dealers” who are among the most likely to expose the “MJ Buyer” to other, harder drugs (leading to the gateway theory – who would have thought, its the laws that create the gateway!), and they stifle both Marijuana and Hemp industries that have the potential to be very lucrative – not to mention a significant tax revenue stream. NORML has made it its mission to tap into the public’s increasingly Pro-Marijuana sentiments to lobby Washington to reform its Marijuana Laws.
On their website they describe their current activities as follows:
“Today NORML continues to lead the fight to reform state and federal marijuana laws, whether by voter initiative or through the elected legislatures. NORML serves as an informational resource to thenational media on marijuana-related stories, providing a perspective to offset the anti-marijuana propaganda from the government; lobbies state and federal legislators in support of reform legislation; publishes a regular newsletter; hosts, along with the NORML Foundation, an informative web site and an annual conference; and serves as the umbrella group for a national network of citizen-activists committed to ending marijuana prohibition and legalizing marijuana.”
As you can see, they are quite busy. And it seems to be paying off. With Colorado and Washington state legalizing recreational Marijuana at the state-level, and many others now considering similar measures, Marijuana laws are finally being reformed. Public opinion is also changing. While the public, once taken in by the government’s propaganda, were against legalization, a recent Gallup Poll showed greater than 50% of Americans now support the legalization of Marijuana. This is an important indicator of the strength of the movement and indicates that the spread of fact-based marijuana information has had a positive impact on people’s perceptions of the plant.
While officially focused on U.S. laws, NORML’s message has become a global movement with supports from New Zealand to Denmark – showcasing the appeal and power of the movement. Other support from this social movement comes from the reality that hemp would create a MUCH more eco-friendly “paper” and “lumber” industry as hemp grows quickly and doesn’t require the space or time “trees” need to produce similar amounts of “wood products.” Furthermore, hemp can be used in bio-fuels and many other eco-friendly ways – IF only the laws stopping such industries from existing were to be reformed.