Thank you everyone who has helped Arizona NORML over this past year. In addition to all the amazing progress we have made this year at the state capitol, last week our chapter joined the annual pilgrimage of cannabis activists to Washington DC for National NORML Lobby Days. Activists came from all over the country to participate in workshops, seminars, networking and most importantly, advocating. Our Arizona chapter was able to meet with 11 congressional offices, all nine Congress member offices and both senate offices. In addition, four of the nine congress members were on hand to meet with AZ-NORML activists. All the staff drug policy experts in every office were provided with background on cannabis as medicine, a primer on AZ MMJ patient rights and detailed info on the federal bills NORML is working to advance at our US Capitol. In AZ we have been lucky to have some strong supporters fighting for reform. AZ-07 Congressman Ruben Gallego, who has fought for cannabis reform since his days at the state capitol and the legendary Raul Grijalva (AZ-03) who has been a co-sponsor on several pieces of legislation over the years.

National NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano, US Attorney Barry Grissom (retired), US Rep. Carlos Curbelo (FL), US Attorney Bill Nettles (retired), US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI), NORML Political Director Justin Strekal

Among the 54 cannabis related bills in Congress, for this year’s lobby day NORML focused on six bills total and participated with Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) in announcing a new piece of legislation to authorize DHHS to collect data from state programs to refine federal policy. The lead bill for this year’s effort is S1689/HR4815, The Marijuana Justice Act, which would not only remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, but would also initiate federal post-conviction relief. Another favorite is the STATES Act, S3032/HR, which would amend the CSA to allow states to regulate their own programs without threat of interference. Our chapter also focused on HR1820, The Veterans Equal Access Act which would allow the VA to discuss cannabis therapies with vets in states with medical programs.

Activists from 23 different states attend over 140 scheduled meetings with Congressional offices. AZ-NORML sent four members: executive director Mikel Weisser, treasurer Beth Weisser, board member Todd Gilchrist and Shawn Makil, one of their hardest working volunteers.

From left: Shawn Makil, Mikel Weisser, Rep Paul Gosar (AZ-04) Beth Weisser, Todd Gilchrist

This year the national organization awarded the following annual awards:

NORML’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Grateful Recognition of A Lifetime Dedicated to Reforming Unjust Marijuana Laws and Advancing the Cause of Personal Freedom: Dale Gieringer, California NORML, NORML Board of Directors

NORML’s Outstanding Cannabis Advocate Award for Advancing the Cause of Marijuana Law Reform: Jeff Riedy, Lehigh Valley NORML

Outstanding NORML Chapter Award in Recognition of the Important Role Of Volunteer Activists Organized as Local and Regional NORML Chapters in the Fight to Legalize Marijuana: Chicago NORML

Michael J. Kennedy Social Justice Award: Michael E. Tigar

Peter McWilliams Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing the Cause of Medical Marijuana: Dan Viets, Missouri NORML, NORML Board of Directors

NORML founder Keith Stroup awards the NORML Lifetime Achievement Award to California NORML director, Dale Gieringer