Vice Squad
Tuesday, February 08, 2005
On the Founder of NORML

The Chicago Trib today also runs a story on Keith Stroup, founder and retiring executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). (I guess that the story first appeared in the Washington Post.) Stroup founded NORML in 1970; at first, things seemed to be going NORML's way...
In 1972, Stroup got unexpected help from an unlikely source: The National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, appointed by President Nixon, issued its final report, concluding that marijuana is relatively harmless and that possession of less than an ounce should be legal. Nixon rejected the report, which Stroup used as a lobbying tool in his increasingly successful campaign to reduce penalties for pot.

In 1975, five states -- Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine and Ohio -- removed criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of the weed. In 1976, Jimmy Carter, who during his campaign had advocated decriminalizing pot, was elected president. In 1977, Stroup visited the White House to meet with Carter's drug policy adviser, Peter Bourne. Soon NORML would be playing the White House in softball.
But it all came unravelled, and here we are, in 2005, still saddled with this expensive and unjust marijuana prohibition. Stroup himself is a marijuana smoker, and the article concludes with some discussion of his smoking interest:
His new wife doesn't share his passion for pot. Neither does his 35-year-old daughter, who recently had a baby boy, making Stroup a grandfather. He doesn't care that they don't smoke and he doesn't think anybody should care that he does.

"There's absolutely nothing wrong with it," he says, "and it should be of no interest or concern to the government."

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