Jun 132013
 June 13, 2013

texas marijuana legalization dfw normlThis past weekend, over 200 activists gathered in Fort Worth, Texas, to learn about trends and strategies in marijuana legalization.

The Texas Regional NORML Conference was organized by DFW NORML, the Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Featured keynote speakers included Judge Jim Gray, the retired Orange County Judge who was Gov. Gary Johnson’s running mate on the Libertarian presidential ticket in 2012.  ”Prohibition of marijuana is an atrocity we have inflicted upon ourselves,” said the silver-haired judge, who admits to never having tried marijuana.”  He told the audience he fights for legalization on libertarian principles, explaining, “the drug war is the most failed policy in American history behind slavery.”

The founder of NORML, Keith Stroup, also delivered a keynote address.  ”At it’s core,” the sixty-nine-year-old self-proclaimed pot smoker said, “it’s only incidentally about marijuana.  It’s really about personal liberty.”  Stroup expressed that in the coming years of legalization “the sellers of marijuana – the industry- will be well-represented and to some extent, they already are in the medical marijuana states.  NORML was founded as the voice of the marijuana consumer.”  Stroup illustrated NORML’s beginnings as he worked with legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader to NORML’s future, having been designated the consumer’s voice in regulatory work groups hammering out legalization in Colorado.

The founder and executive director of Marijuana Policy Project, Rob Kampia, also presented on the orgainization’s goals for legalization in the coming years.  Announcing he’s “now a Texan” since moving to Austin, Kampia announced the ultimate goal of federal marijuana legalization in the 2019-2020 Congress.  ”We’re going to put a legalization question on the ballot in Alaska in August of next year,” said Kampia, referring to the only state in which MPP has such plans for 2014.  ”There are seven states that could be voting on legalization all in the same day in 2016,” he continued, referring to Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Maine, and Massachusetts.  ”Oregon might jump out in front in 2014 which is risky – it’s possible to pass and I hope it does if it gets on the ballot – but it’s easier to pass in 2016.  It’s also cheaper to pass in 2016.”

420RADIO host and National Cannabis Coalition contributor “Radical” Russ Belville delivered two presentations to the conference.  On Saturday, Belville outlined the rhetorical strategies of prohibitionists following the “third way” tactics of Project SAM and former White House drug staffer Kevin Sabet.  On Sunday, Belville delivered his “Box Canyon” presentation, updated to reflect the changes in politics and rhetoric surrounding medical marijuana legislation.  In addition, Belville delivered an ad-hoc presentation on hemp as he hosted a “Hemp Fashion Show” featuring the creations of sponsoring vendors.

Other speakers and presenters included members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Texas Moms United, the Libertarian Party, the Unitarian Church, Mothers Against Teen Violence, the 9/12 Project, Texas Coalition for Compassionate Care, and members of the University of Texas Austin and University of North Texas college NORML chapters, the Houston, San Antonio, Texas (Austin), Waco, and Dalls/Ft.Worth NORML Chapters.  There were also professionals from the legal, medical, religious, and cultivation industries available for presentations and questions and answers.

Another room of the conference featured vendors and non-profits from Texas.  Books, stickers, CDs, t-shirts, and products unique to the cannabis community were all on display, showing the vibrant Texas marijuana culture that has flourished despite strong criminalization of marijuana.  The vendors were delighted by the attendance and commerce at the event, having all made a decent weekend’s profit on the endeavor.  ”The vendors were pretty happy and we are, too,” DFW NORML’s Pete Marerro told NCC, with the Dallas chapter having actually made a profit on a first-ever event, a rare occurrence in non-profit advocacy.

The information and education of the daytime was topped off with fantastic social events all three nights, affording activists the opportunity to speak directly with the speakers and presenters from the conference.  DFW NORML presented marvelous bands and speakers for all the events at venues that were friendly to the special requirements of cannabis enthusiasts.  At moments the events were indistinguishable from similar events on the West Coast and Colorado, with perhaps a few more “y’alls” and a few less dabs, though the handheld “vapor pen” technology has definitely made its way to the hands of Texas tokers with a need for covert vaporizing of cannabis.

There will certainly be a second Texas Regional NORML Conference next year.  This effort reflects a growing movement among the NORML chapters to hold regional conferences, like earlier this year in the South, the Mid-Atlantic states, and California.  Legalization has gone nationwide and the need for regional conferences highlights the differing and expanding needs of advocates across the United States.

Source: National Cannabis Coalitionmake a donation

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About Russ Belville

I am the executive director of 420RADIO.org and host / producer of The Russ Belville Show - The Independent Voice of the Marijuana Nation at http://radicalruss.com - live from Portland, Oregon. I was the winner of The Search for the Next Great Progressive Talk Radio Star and a former host on XM Satellite Radio and Portland's AM 620 KPOJ. I was the Outreach Coordinator for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws from 2008-2012, which included lecturing all across America on marijuana legalization, writing political analysis for HIGH TIMES Magazine, and producing over 1,000 hours of video content for The NORML Network.
  • Tim

    I am epileptic and with the legal use of medical marijuana
    spreading across the country I know that there is hope for me. I’m sharing
    my story so that there is even more proof out there of what marijuana can do.

    I don’t smoke marijuana right now but when I was smoking it for 5
    years I had no seizures at all, but then I stopped
    smoking. I didn’t want to get thrown in jail. I have been
    on expensive anti-seizure meds since I gave it up and I still
    have had 3 grand mal seizures and more than 20 partial seizures in
    the 5 years since I stopped smoking.

    I was in a bad car accident in 1998 at age 22. I had brain trauma and was in the
    hospital for 6 weeks. The doctors told me that I might start having seizures in
    the future and at 24 I started having partial seizures. They were minor but
    they scared me. I have never been closer to suicide than I was during one
    of these seizures.

    In 2003, I moved to San Marcos, TX to go to college at Texas State
    University and started smoking marijuana with roommates regularly. I
    usually smoked less than 1-2 small bowls(in a pipe) of the
    cheap, weak type of marijuana per day. I didn’t have any seizures while I
    was in college at TSU and for several years after graduation in 2006.

    In the spring of 2008 I started dating a woman that didn’t
    like marijuana. I went from smoking that small amount to an even
    smaller amount of 1 bowl every 2 days or so. I had a grand mal seizure at work.
    I woke up in the hospital with a black eye from hitting the floor. I went
    to a neurologist and he sent me to get an MRI on my brain. I had scar
    tissue in my brain from the car accident that was causing the seizures. I was
    put on Trileptal, an expensive anti-seizure drug. The side
    effects of this drug didn’t seem to bother me at first. I knew that marijuana
    had been helping me but the risks were too high so I didn’t use it very
    much and would soon quit smoking it all together. I eventually broke up
    with that girl and in 2009 I met my wife to be. She didn’t like marijuana
    either and was even more against me smoking it than the other woman was. I
    loved her so I eventually gave up marijuana before we got married in
    late 2009.

    My dosage of Trileptal has been increased over time. The side
    effects that didn’t bother me at first now cause problems. I have also been put
    on another anti-seizure drug, Dilantin. These two medications cost more
    than $600 per month. I hate life sometimes when the side effects are
    really harsh. There is a good chance that these dosages will keep being
    increased over time, meaning this cost will increase. Every time my meds are
    increased or another one is added more side effects always follow.

    Mywife has changed her views on marijuana and is in favor of me using it but
    there are laws that make no sense still keeping me from what I need. Marijuana
    is a simple plant that is grown out of the earth and with no refining
    or additions needed it has already been proven to help me so much. I
    can grow it myself and spend a lot less than the $600 per month that
    the meds cost. Medical grade marijuana is much more potent than the
    cheap, weak stuff that I used to smoke. Medical marijuana will help me in
    a better way than what has already worked so well.

    Inthe hard times we are living through doesn’t it make sense to let
    humans decide from the options? I can either continue to destroy my body that
    has been damaged by years of using these meds with their side
    effects or I can choose to let nature help me. I can continue to spend $600 per
    month on these meds or I can spend that money supporting my family and helping
    the economy grow. This madness has to stop and medical marijuana needs to
    be allowed to help the people that need it. TC 8/2013

    • bigcountry

      some true words there my friend,i hope that change will come soon.