I am NORML. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is one of the key players in the marijuana law reform movement. NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty. Most people across America have heard of this organization. I have been a supporter of the organization for a number of years. Organizations like NORML, MPP (Marijuana Policy Project), and SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) have been making huge impacts on their communities by addressing the failed drug war, and offering solutions that actually work. We see the impact in the states that have legalized Medical Marijuana, decriminalized simple possession of cannabis, or even the two that have recently legalized marijuana for recreational use. For most Americans, it only makes sense to take penalties away from simple, non-violent, responsible adult uses of cannabis.
When we take a glance at the supporters of these movements, we notice that the stereotypical image of the ‘stoner,’ clad in dirty torn clothes, spending days locked to his couch, living in a cloud of smoke, neglecting all responsibilities and duties, unable to focus on any task, is not the actual picture of the cannabis consumer. Most of our supporters are the same people you would come across in any coffee shop, any shopping mall, any classroom, any family reunion, and any doctor’s office. A great number of NORML supporters are people who have never even used cannabis. They look just like you and me. They are fully functioning members of society. They work hard and play hard.
Standing Tall in an Area Dead to Reform
I live in Lubbock, Texas. Lubbock is a very staunch republican pocket of Texas. Just like any state, there are areas of liberal majority (like Austin, or Arlington) and areas of conservative majority. Cannabis legalization spans across the bi-partisan line, and needs to be addressed as an American issue, not just one sided. Many liberals view legalization as a human right, civil liberty, and ‘what I do in my own home is my own business’ type of issue. But the argument is strong for the right side as well. Small government, prison overcrowding, and billions spent each year on the war on cannabis. Fiscal responsibility should include appropriate spending. In Texas, we spend roughly $48,000 per year on each inmate. That is more than most teachers’ salaries in TX. It’s much, much more than what is allocated for each grade-school student, roughly $9,000 per year. In Texas, possession of ‘any usable amount’ up to 2 ounces is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, and a fine up to $2,000. The spending habits of the State of Texas show us that keeping a cannabis user in jail is more important than improving the teacher-student ratio.
For many years now, Lubbock has had concerned citizens gather monthly to address the failures of the drug war, and specifically the war on cannabis. These gatherings were mostly gripe sessions, without any traction as an organization. Leadership was lacking, and the need to organize was obvious. That’s where we came in. Five of us decided it was time to organize, affiliate, and take steps forward toward moving public opinion in Lubbock. We formed the regional chapter of NORML for our area. Hub City NORML is the only chapter in a 350-mile radius. Albuquerque, NM, Oklahoma City, OK, and DFW are basically equidistant from Lubbock.
None of has had any experience leading grassroots style movements, but we did have the support and guidance from NORML chapters across Texas. We stay in close contact and communication with the other chapters so that we can learn from their successes, their failures, and harness their experience to help us make sound decisions to move our chapter forward.
Hub City NORML’s first meeting had 4 people in attendance. If that doesn’t scare the pants off of someone, I’m not sure what would. We had a small NORML banner taped to a tree in a public park near a park bench. This was May of 2013. A few month of hitting the pavement, passing out information, and trying to make local contacts for support followed. We began organizing an event to bring in expert speakers for a conference and music fest that was to be held in August. We were able to bring an amazing speaker from LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), and a Texas lawyer who founded the Texas Innocence Project, an amazing Freedom Fighter from New Mexico who helped bring legalized Medical Marijuana to the state of New Mexico, a patient who uses Cannabis Therapy as part of her treatment, and the Executive Director of Texas NORML to the small pocket of Texas called Lubbock.
Hub City NORML Forms Alliances to Change Hearts and Minds
Lubbock is a college town. Texas Tech brings tens of thousands of students to its’ campus every year. We decided to schedule the conference and music fest on the same weekend as students coming back to town for school to resume the following week. We were also very fortunate to find 17 bands in the Lubbock music scene to come and donate their time and talents to the cause. The bands helped create an atmosphere that was very attractive to these students. Over the two day Hub City NORML Conference and Music Fest, we were able to see hundreds of faces each night. Our membership rosters jumped from 75 to over 225 in two days. The support and attention from the community was overwhelming. We gathered many sponsors for this event, and formed relationships with these organizations. Magic Flight, Vapor Brothers, MPP, LEAP, Gypsy Pow Wow, and Humboldt Traders were some of the amazing organizations and businesses that put their time, effort, money, and merchandise into the hands of Hub City NORML to help educate the masses.
This event was really our ‘coming out’ party as a new regional chapter. Magic Flight, the company that makes the amazing personal, portable, stealthy vaporizer known as the Magic Flight Launch Box, contacted our chapter. In collaboration with Magic Flight, we started the Hub City NORML Compassion Gifting Program. Prohibiting cannabis in Texas does not stop patients from seeking relief from an amazingly therapeutic plant. It only makes those people criminals. Magic Flight has paved the way for us to be able to place free vaporizers into the hands of Texans who have a financial and medical need for one. Many patients in Texas struggle. Not just with access to safe medicine, but struggle financially as well. Since the program has started, we have been able to place free vaporizers into the hands of patients who suffer from breast cancer, fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, back injuries from Afghanistan, lupus, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, PTSD, anxiety, chronic clinical depression, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, alcoholism, and many other issues that can be treated and relieved with cannabis. As a NORML chapter, our number one priority is to move public opinion, and since we can’t distribute cannabis to patients, giving them access to the tools necessary to be successful is the next best thing. For many patients, a burn-and-breathe method of consumption is not favorable. Since vaporizing does not include combustion, and is closer to boil-and-breathe, we know that this is the kind of gift that can change lives. My wife and I spent 8 hours in one day distributing vaporizers to patients in need. That was one of the best days of my life. I can’t even count how many tears rolled down my cheeks when I would see the reaction on the patients’ faces. “You’re not trying to sell this to me? You mean, it’s free??? But, these are expensive. Like, over $100….” Yes. It is free, because people in California, and people here in your own hometown love you, and want you to be safe, happy and healthy.
Please understand that when you purchase a Magic Flight Launch Box, that you help provide patients with access to safe tools. While we were the first chapter in Texas to implement this program, we are no longer the only. More than half of the chapters in Texas have similar programs with Magic Flight, and others are working toward it. Our chapter gets five MFLB’s each month. We ask our members to nominate their friends, family, and loved ones who have a medical and financial need for a gifted vaporizer. When the five each month are decided, we sit down with the patient in a private setting to give a tutorial of the device as well. Like many vaporizers, if you treat it like a classic hand pipe, you won’t get the effects of the medicine that are needed. Proper training and instruction are required. Otherwise, the device would simply sit in a drawer after a few uses, and the patient would return to the ‘burn-and-breathe’ method. That’s the last thing we want for our patients who need alternative delivery methods of the therapeutic cannabinoids.
Where Do Our Legislators Stand?
Our chapter has met with local, state, and federal legislators to help keep them informed of what cannabis IS, and what cannabis IS NOT. Our meetings have shown us that roughly half of our legislators are open minded to the thought of bringing safe, legal, medicinal cannabis to patients, under a doctor’s recommendation, and with regulation. Very few in Texas right now are open to the thought of a regulated cannabis retail market, but we are working on that, as well. The other half seem to be totally stuck in the “Reefer Madness” era and communicate very real fears concerning cannabis. Councilman Price in Lubbock actually had the audacity to say, “I’ve never heard of any studies showing this, but I want to hear some science that says marijuana can destroy the reproductive systems in men and women. When two marijuana smokers have a baby, that child is prone to psychosis, schizophrenia, and other mental health.” If this doesn’t show how much of a need there is for accurate information, and a breaking down of stonewalls built by misinformation, and the need to reconsider who we vote for, I’m not sure what would.
The Infant Chapter
Hub City NORML is an infant when it comes to NORML chapters. Since we are only 6 months old, we can’t walk, we can’t talk, and we can’t even tell our moms when we are hungry. Our diapers need to be checked often, and we are prone to diaper rash. We are growing, like any infant does. We are becoming wiser, and more surefooted as the days, weeks, and months pass. We have started planning another conference in collaboration with the Texas Tech Graduate Student Advisory Council. On Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11th, from 6-8pm CST, we will be bringing more experts in the cannabis reform movement to come speak. This time, we have more than ten guest speakers, and the conference will have a live stream. Visit our website Links to the stream will be posted soon. Like other NORML chapters, we are a non-profit organization, and no person takes a salary from Hub City NORML. All work done by our chapter is volunteer based. Please, open your hearts, minds, and wallets and donate to our chapter today. Donations are very easy at our website, on the contact us page. You can send us an email of encouragement and make a donation on the same page. The “Donate” button will take you to our PayPal page.
Get up, Stand up
Wherever you are, please look into your local NORML chapter, and find ways that you can provide support. Every chapter has needs, and you have the opportunity to be a part of the solution. Please, contact your local, state, and federal legislators and let them know that your vote is spent on candidates who can move forward toward smarter policies. Most NORML chapters across America have training opportunities to help you with your meetings. Get involved. Stay involved.
Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are – Ben Franklin
In the six months that Hub City NORML has been working, we have seen that our members are everyday people. We work hard to bring a message of smarter marijuana policy to an area largely considered dead to reform. After organizing and finding full affiliation, our first event helped raise the start up capital necessary to begin making an impact. Our Hub City NORML Compassion Gifting Program, with the help of Magic Flight and other companies like Smokazon, has started changing lives in this rural pocket of the Texas Panhandle. You have the opportunity to be a part of a movement like this. Become a member. Become an active member. Offer your hands, your talents, and your passions to work with us toward a future that has a smarter cannabis policy.
Colt Smith is the Executive Director of Hub City NORML, recently he has been Chosen as the High Times Freedom Fighter. You can support him and his cause on Hub city NORML Website or like the NORMLHub City Facebook page.