December 27, 2001
NORML To Hold 2002 Annual Conference in San Francisco
Washington, DC: NORML executive director Keith Stroup announced today that the 2002 NORML Conference, the organization's annual political conference for citizen activists, will be held from April 18-20, 2002 at the Crowne Plaza Union Square Hotel in San Francisco. The conference, entitled "4:20: A Celebration of Personal Freedom," is held each year to coincide with April 20 (4/20), the date that has become popular for marijuana smokers to protest current laws that outlaw responsible marijuana use, and to celebrate personal freedom.
The three day conference includes panels of experts on topics including the importance politically of encouraging responsible smokers to "come out of the closet"; the latest on the science of drug testing; the future for patient support groups in California and other states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes; a 30th anniversary review of the report of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (aka the Shafer Commission report); the rapidly moving trend towards marijuana decriminalization and legalization in Canada and western Europe; marijuana and health, both the risks and the benefits; avoiding a pot bust, and surviving if you are busted; the legal status of industrial hemp; the political left and political right agree on ending marijuana prohibition; and marijuana cultivation techniques as a legal source of medical marijuana.
Featured speakers for the conference include San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan; California State Senator John Vasconcellos (D San Jose); NORML Foundation Chair John P. Morgan, M.D, City University of New York Medical School; renowned San Francisco criminal defense attorney Tony Serra; Cato Institute executive vice-president and author David Boaz; and Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation.
Attendees will be treated to an opening reception and art auction on Thursday evening, co-sponsored by NORML and High Times magazine, and a special NORML 4/20 benefit party on Saturday evening.
"We welcome all who are interested in reforming current marijuana policies to join us for this annual event, and we urge those who are committed to ending marijuana prohibition to make a special effort to attend," said NORML's Stroup. "This is our best opportunity each year to meet and network with political allies from around the country and prepare for the year ahead."
A special block of rooms are being held for conference attendees at the Crowne Plaza Union Square Hotel at the greatly-reduced rate of $139 per night, single or double occupancy. Please call early (888-218-0808) to reserve your room while these reduced-rate rooms remain available.
You can register for the conference now by calling the NORML office toll-free (888-67-NORML) with your credit card. Within a few days conference registration information will also be available on the NORML web site (www.norml.org).
The $150 conference registration fee covers the three-day conference, conference materials; continental breakfast each morning; mid morning and mid-afternoon refreshment breaks; the opening reception on Thursday evening; and the Saturday luncheon. The Saturday night NORML 4/20 benefit party is an optional event.
Editor's Note: A Drug Free America by 2002?
A remarkably silly, totally unrealistic goal -- "a drug-free America by 2002" -- was announced by the Republicans in the US House of Representatives with great fanfare at a Capitol Hill press conference on April 30, 1998. Signing a "Declaration of Commitment," Republicans House members pledged, with a straight face, to achieve this impossible goal.
As we approach 2002, according to the latest government surveys, 14 million Americans are current illicit drug users, of which 11 million are simply marijuana smokers. Clearly the Republicans in Congress have failed miserably to reach their announced goal.
The point of raising this matter is to underscore the exaggerated rhetoric that pervades and distorts our drug policy debate in this country. Politicians promise unrealistic and unattainable goals, with the expectation they will never be held accountable by the voting public. This is pandering at its worst.
Of course we are not a drug-free society; there are none on the planet. Our goal should be to discourage harmful and abusive drug use, while adopting policies that minimize the harm from marijuana use and marijuana prohibition. And the first step toward that goal must be ending the arrest of responsible marijuana smokers. There were 734,000 marijuana arrests last year in this country and 88% were for possession only.
The next time you hear a politician promise unattainable drug policy goals while pandering for votes, remind him of the drug warriors' last failed promise: a drug-free America by 2002.
Allen St. Pierre
- End -