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NYC NORML Issues Open Letter To Governor Cuomo Opposing Nomination of Executive Director of Cannabis Programs

NEW YORK: Interim Executive Director of NYC NORML Ryan Lepore issued the following open letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, detailing the advocacy group’s opposition to elevating Norman Birenbaum from Director of Cannabis Programs to Executive Director of the newly formed Office of Cannabis Management.

 

May 20th, 2021

We have recently learned of the intent to nominate New York’s current Director of Cannabis Programs, Norman Birenbaum to Executive Director of the incoming Office of Cannabis Management under our new Cannabis Law.  The legislative intent behind the legal passage of cannabis in New York will be abolished if this candidate is formally nominated and appointed into leadership roles of the incoming program, particularly  the role of Executive Director.

As a potential nominee for this integral position, Mr. Birenbaum’s regulatory history is plenteous with policymaking and regulations that are antithetical to the legislative intent of the “Marijuana Taxation & Regulation Act” (MRTA) passed into Law. Within his current position of New York’s Director of Cannabis Programs,  Mr. Birenbaum has repeatedly encouraged culturally insensitive policies into the proposed framework of New York’s incoming program and deployed tactics in his previous regulatory role that resulted in documentable public distrust and harm towards the existing patient community of that state. Many of his regulatory policies are widely known within the industry to encourage predatory practices, monopolization, and further systemic racism. Our role in New York demands attunement towards the diversity of New York State & our ambitious goals for social equity.

Examining Mr. Birenbaum’s tenure in Rhode Island revealed his history of aggressive tactics, including the use of law enforcement to carry out regulatory compliance, many of which are described as openly hostile to their vulnerable patient community. This is truly worrisome as one of the revered foundations of justice within our law’s intent is to break the pattern of re-criminalization of cannabis patients and consumers. It should also raise concern that he enacted additional policies in Rhode Island which resulted in patient privacy and HIPAA violations, legal issues, as well as protests and rallies against his leadership.   This track record of harmful regulatory strategies in a state of considerably smaller size and population stands as a stark warning about the potential impact of his leadership in a state as large and diverse culturally, economically, and racially as New York – we are the Empire State.

The MRTA provides an improved framework to ensure success in the context of justice and social equity. The magnitude of this landmark endeavor requires a candidate with not only experience on both of these priorities but also an open mind towards exploring new strategies in partnership with criminal justice and social equity experts. It is important to note that in 2017, Mr. Birenbaum was not chosen for the Executive Director role by Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission for many of the misgivings mentioned (as well as having true integration in the already established cannabis community that another candidate already held). Research from the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission public meeting minutes underscores the hesitancy in approving this candidate who did not have the humility necessary to successfully run an ambitious Cannabis Program. Based on multiple conversations and the candidate’s demonstrated lack of concern, it‘s clear that he has not historically been amenable  to adopting social equity-focused provisions and even furthermore has been characterized as closed-minded towards ideas other than his own on this issue. This is all while holding zero credibility behind his lack of action behind implementing or supporting social equity parameters in the past.

Two years into his tenure, New York’s regulatory successes should be apparent to the wider community and indisputable to the industry, as seen in other state programs with policy changes within similar timeframes. He has no experience incorporating any policies that help communities of color or the legacy market transition into the legal framework. Instead, there is a demonstrated history of ignorance when it comes to the cannabis community and its already established marketplace. This becomes even more problematic because New York’s legacy market is debatably one of the largest in the nation, and insensitive regulation in other markets towards legacy transition have hindered the ability to maximize participation from its consumers and collect tax revenue for impactful social equity programs in other states.

Communities harmed and inhibited by prohibition are the core populations that the MRTA seeks to empower and transition. Having public trust from these constituencies who have been traditionally harmed by prohibition and are already integrated with the community, is essential to the successful execution of this groundbreaking legislation.  Public distrust of this suggested executive director will discourage engagement and recreate the same societal dilemmas the law seeks to resolve.

His appointment is an unnecessary liability towards New York’s cannabis industry leadership  and a regressive assault on true social progress. His leadership will quickly tarnish any positively construed legacy that we are collectively vested in implementing in our state. We swiftly urge the consideration of different candidates for the incoming leadership roles and ask the Governor to consider other appointments recommended by the activists and community stakeholders who supported passage of the MRTA. Instead of a controversial figure with a questionable record of leadership, we call upon the Governor to select a BIPOC or culturally competent candidate who understands the full context of prohibition and the ensuing need for social equity as the program’s Executive Director.

Sincerely,

Ryan Lepore

Interim Executive Director of NYC NORML

 

Curved Papers & Empire State NORML Kick Off ‘Do The Right Thing, New York’ PSA Campaign

NEW YORK: This week Curved Papers and the New York State Chapters of NORML kicked off Do The Right Thing, New York, a PSA marketing campaign designed to raise awareness and support  for The Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act (MRTA), one of two competing bills to legalize adult use in what will be the sixteenth or seventeenth state to do so.

As part of the campaign, Curved Papers produced a 7-page primer called “Seven Points About Legalization In New York State 2021,” which explains with pictures, why the MRTA is vastly preferable for cannabis community members, the consumer, the industry and the general public.

“Not only does the MRTA better address core issues of concern to the citizenry across New York State, equity, justice, home grow and sustainability,” Michael O’Malley, Curved Papers Founder told MJNews, “the CRTA is actually a poor solution, and moves all these issues in the wrong direction, or perpetuates problems the MRTA solves.”

Curved Papers is a licensee of NORML, and supports NORML with a royalty on its NORML Curved Papers, made from 100% organic hemp.

Curved Papers was granted the first Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the first NYC NORML Awards in 2019 and takes that honor seriously. A New York company founded by a guy from Brooklyn, the time is now for our home state.

Curved Papers and MJBA share the concept of “cannafest destiny,” the green wave of legalization moving from the West to the East which is finally really crashing on our New York shores. Time to do the right thing, New York!

If you’re a New Yorker, please use this convenient tool to reach out to your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly, and to the Governor, and let them know you support equity, justice, home grow and sustainability. Pass the MRTA now!

DTRTNY will be sharing this link during live online events for the next four Mondays! This Monday join a WATCH PARTY ACTION, featuring “Grass Is Greener,” the seminal film by Fab Five Freddie, a New Yorker if there ever was one.

Celebrating 50 Years Of NORML

By Michael O’Malley

NEW YORK: Today is a good day to wish NORML happy birthday. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hold its annual national conference today and tomorrow. NORML celebrates 50 YEARS OF ACTIVISM this year with a high impact, information rich webinar. This iconic cannabis brand and historic advocacy continues to roll on into the next fifty years of consumer protection, still strongly focused on legalization.

In the conference webinar, national NORML leaders are providing their members and chapter leadership, and other activists and supporters with facts and strategies to augment and enhance their activism in their states and spheres of influence.

NORML President Erik Altieri opened the festivities with a rousing address, followed by NORML Founder Keith Stroup greeting the conference in a taped segment. From there the conference proceeds over all the issues and contests facing the nation and the states.

Tune in, donate! Click here:

We need NORML now more than ever. They are busier than ever and having more success. There is still so much to do as this transition continues to roll across the country and around the globe.

Curved Papers supports NORML under a licensing agreement to produce 100% organic hemp NORML Curved Papers.

HELP MAKE MARIJUANA LEGAL.  BUY THESE ROLLING PAPERS!

“We’re very proud to be associated with NORML. This commercial program will help sustain the world-changing work that NORML does to protect personal freedom and reform our nation’s marijuana laws.”

Watch or join “Easy To Roll” Sundays at 4:20pm Eastern Time Sunday School for Rolling Joints.
Like and follow @curvedpapers on all platforms.

 

Indiana NORML Applauds Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears’ Focus

INDIANA:  In a press conference, Acting Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced that the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office will no longer prosecute citizens for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.      Indianapolis now becomes the first Hoosier city to exercise “lowest priority” status for dealing with simple possession of small amounts of cannabis.

According to , this policy shift is expected to dramatically reduce the number of marijuana possession arrests made by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Marion County Sheriff’s Department law enforcement officers.   “For many years Indiana NORML has worked diligently to address the severe racial disparities in arrests and prosecutions for simple possession of cannabis and to advance civil liberties,” said Smith.  “We’ve also fought for Hoosiers’ right to use medical cannabis with a doctor’s prescription to treat chronic pain and other medical and emotional conditions, so patients can live in peace, without fear of arrest, and criminal prosecution.”

Though INORML has advocated for these changes for decades, the efforts of many of the INORML Board of Directors has intensified over the past months in many different areas.   “These efforts have included face-to-face meetings with several elected officials, including representatives of the Marion County Prosecutor’s office, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council, and numerous state and local officials over the last several months,” said Bill Groth, Indiana NORML Board of Directors. “We are most pleased that our efforts have finally resulted in a sound, compassionate, and permanent reassessment of law enforcement priorities as they relate to possession of cannabis.”

In the interim, the organization looks forward to working with other public officials to enact similar policies across the state to bridge the gap until the Indiana General Assembly decides to finally take direct action to resolve our detrimental and outdated cannabis laws.

Curved Papers & CWCBExpo Roll Out NORML FORML LA Sept 25th

CALIFORNIA: On Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, Curved Papers will once again partner with CWCBExpo to present NORML FORML LA, An Evening of Art, Music and Fashion.” The fundraiser for The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws takes place on the eve of the CWCBExpo at The Pattern Bar in the LA’s Fashion District.
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Michael O’Malley, Curved Paper’s CEO and Founder, told MJNews that attendees will be treated to an enchanted evening of artists, activists and entrepreneurs.  “This fundraiser will be the featured charity event of Cannabis Week in LA.” the entrepreneur said. “NORML has provided leadership for the legalization movement for 50 years. They stand to finish the fight, and to continue to fight for the rights and protection of the cannabis consumer.”
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Attendees will be treated to speeches by Dale Gieringer and Ellen Komp of CA NORML, and Bruce Margolin of LA NORML. as well as a show of music, art and fashion, music by Stunt Double and a Medical Marijuana Series by artist Jacob Wheeler.
“The spirit of cooperation and progress that drives the NORML FORML will bring together .Coms, .Orgs, .EDUs and .GOVs.,” O’Malley said.

Tickets to NORML FORML LA are $75 and available at Eventbrite.

NORML Delivers Over 10,000 Public Comments To FDA Regarding International Classification Of Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: NORML staffers on Wednesday hand-delivered over 10,000 public comments to the US Food and Drug Administration calling on the agency to recommend amending the substance’s illicit status under international treaties. The agency had requested public comments so that they could be “considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization regarding the abuse liability and diversion” of marijuana and certain other substances.

NORML LOGO

It is the second time this year the FDA has sought the public’s feedback with regard to cannabis scheduling. In April, NORML staffers also delivered over 10,000 written comments to the agency from members of the public.

Writing to the FDA on NORML’s behalf, Deputy Director Paul Armentano opined “that cannabis be removed from the international drug conventions so that nations that wish to do so may further expand their regulations governing cannabis’ use, possession, production, and dispensing for either recreational or medical use.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

NORML Smoke The Vote Campaign Kickoff Showcases Cannabis Friendly Candidates

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws hosts voter education at Cannabition Cannabis Museum in Las Vegas

Keith Stroup will keynote Smoke The Vote rally in Las Vegas

Keith Stroup will keynote Smoke The Vote rally in Las Vegas

NEVADA: On Friday, October 5th, 2018, National NORML Founder Keith Stroup, local and national leaders of NORML, and key elected leaders and candidates in Nevada will convene to keep the marijuana momentum building in the Silver State.

A voter education rally will take place in Downtown Las Vegas. The event is to place at the recently opened “Cannabition” — the world’s first immersive cannabis museum and art installation in downtown Las Vegas.

The “Smoke the Vote” campaign has been offered by NORML for the past several election cycles and aims directly to educate cannabis consumers on candidates positions on marijuana reform, as well as other voting rights. Voter education and registration will be available inside the Neonopolis attraction. Office holders and seekers, such as Senator Tick Segerblom, will be discussing the importance of voter turnout this midterm.

“Now that cannabis is recreationally available to all Nevadans over 21, it is vital that office-holders acknowledge consumer rights protections so that we aren’t continued to be marginalized,” Las Vegas NORML’s Madisen Saglibene told MJNews Network. “Testing positive for marijuana after a traffic-related occurrence could results in felony charges that will ruin a person’s life. We need legislators to understand that they should use their influence to push for more research and consideration when talking about using the nanograms system to detect impairment. If you have consumed cannabis in the last 30 days or if you plan to, these things affect you!”

las vegas normlNevada voters legalized the adult use of marijuana in 2016. Nevadans need lawmakers at the state and federal level who will respect the will of the voters and who will ensure that these laws and regulations remain in place as intended, and that the federal government does not interfere with them.

“Not voting is not a form of rebellion, it’s instead a form of surrender and cannabis is the ultimate symbol of freedom,” Saglibene added. “NORML has been representing responsible cannabis consumers since 1970 and is working persistently to increase voter awareness within the cannabis industry.”

What: Press conference

Date:  10/05/2018

Location: Cannabition, 450 Fremont St #140, Las Vegas, NV 89101

5:00PM – National NORML Keith Stroup Meet & Greet at Cannabition

5:30PM-6:00PM – Press Conference w/ Nevada NORML, Senator Tick Segerblom, and other Clark County candidates

NORML PAC Endorses Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Blumenauer And Young

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML-PAC) has announced their endorsements of Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Don Young (R-AK) in their reelection campaigns. Blumenauer and Young serve as lead co-chairs of the Cannabis Caucus in the House of Representatives.

“Representative Earl Blumenauer has been supporting sensible marijuana law reform longer than anyone currently serving in the House of Representatives. He cast a vote in favor of decriminalization in Oregon in the 1970’s as a member of the state legislator and has been one of the leading champions for ending our failed prohibition on marijuana at the federal level since he was first elected to Congress,” commented NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “It is our honor to support his reelection in 2018 and supporters of marijuana law reform couldn’t ask for a better ally to have in the arena.”

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“Representative Don Young has shown how truly bipartisan marijuana law reform efforts can be by his leadership as a co-chair of the House Congressional Cannabis Caucus,” said NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “Alaska voters should send him to Congress for another term so he can continue to advocate for federal reform and help convince more of his colleagues in the Republican Party to join the fight against the outdated and failed policy of prohibition.”

The Congressional Cannabis Caucus was formed in 2017 to develop and promote sensible cannabis policy reform and work to ease the tension between federal and state cannabis laws.


For more information, contact NORML PAC at (202) 483-5500.

NORML PAC Endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for Reelection

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Political Action Committee (NORML PAC) has endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders in his campaign for reelection in Vermont.

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“Bernie has become one of the most outspoken and visible advocates for ending marijuana prohibition,” stated NORML PAC Executive Director Erik Altieri, “He has called for sensible drug policy throughout his career, made descheduling marijuana a key component of his platform when running for the Democratic nomination for President in 2016, and has co-sponsored key pieces of federal legislation such as the Marijuana Justice Act. Senator Sanders doesn’t restrict his fight for reform to backroom meetings and floor speeches in Congress, he takes our message with him as he holds massive rallies and town halls across not just the state of Vermont, but throughout the country. His fire and passion have helped elevate our issue in the national dialogue and we are honored to support his reelection campaign. He is a true leader in the marijuana legalization revolution.”

NORML Founder Keith Stroup To Address NJ Cannabis Symposium March 29 At NJPAC

NEW JERSEY:  The granddaddy of the marijuana reform movement, NORML founder Keith Stroup, will be a featured speaker at the upcoming NJ Cannabis Symposium’s “Finance and Investments” event.  The symposium takes place on March 29th at the NJPAC in Newark.

During his address, Stroup is expected to unveil The NORML Legal Committee (“NLC”) listserv, an attorney’s resource dedicated to cannabis business law.

Building on the success of their January program, which brought over 800 budding Cannabis entrepreneurs together to explore the Cannabis industry in NJ, the program is intended to educate those interested in preparing for cannabis business opportunities and follows a natural progression of topics relevant to NJ’s suspected timeline, spotlighting the intricacies, challenges, and opportunities associated with navigating all things finance.  Doors will open at 4pm to accommodate registration.

Justin Zaremba, editor of NJ Cannabis Insider will be one of the moderators. Brian Staffa of BSC Group will be the Emcee and Joshua Bauchner of Ansell Grimm & Aaron, PC will moderate the Q&A session.