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Norml Director Says, 'Legalize It'

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National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Executive Director, Allen St. Pierre, said during a Saturday interview that although legislative efforts on the legalization front have hit the doldrums, the new user-based multi-media advances have opened another door that has kept the organization's purpose moving forward.

"Marijuana is almost always in the top 20 search words on Internet," St. Pierre said.

He then referred to the NORML podcast, which he said has 22,000 downloads a day.

"It's one of the most popular posdcasts on iTunes," St. Pierre said. And if you couldn't make the conference, don't worry you'll be able to catch every panel and seminar in a few days on YouTube.com ."50,000 people will likely download what happened here," St. Pierre.

Though the legislative efforts recently, medicinal or otherwise, aren't as robust as they have been in recent past, they are still out there in various states.

"They're rather minor compared to 1996 to 2001," St. Pierre said. He said initiatives in Rhode Island, Vermont and Montana either have recently passed through state legislation, or are making their way through.

Pierre also addressed what might happen to Northern California marijuana growers if marijuana was legalized.

"Under prohibition, there are regions that profit from it," St. Pierre said.

He said Northern California is one of about five regions around the country that has an economy effected by the growing of marijuana, along with Hawaii, the Ozark Plateau and Southern Appalachia.

"There are micro economies there that will be effected by ( legalization ), absolutely," St. Pierre said. "But branding is important. Hawaii and Northern California enjoy a good reputation."

He compared how "branding" may work for Humboldt County to the wine industry, saying the current marijuana cultivation scene is like the Napa Valley in the 1950s

Though wine is been made all over the country, Napa carries with it a reputation.

"Do you ever hear anyone say 'I want to get a bottle of Tuscaloosa Red,'?" St. Pierre asks. "No."

The conference is at a different location than the last two years, which were held in San Francisco, but Los Angeles was actually the third choice.

He said New York hotel after New York hotel turned them down, so eyes turned west again.

"Why is this state the most marijuana tolerant state in the country,?" St. Pierre said. "It's not the water, it's not the air, it's California."

The future of NORML includes setting its sights on a national effort to decriminalize marijuana.

Next month, Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank is introducing a bill to have no fines for possession of less than an ounce and NORML has it's work cut out for them garnering support.

"Even from Republicans," St. Pierre said, adding that they initially thought Frank would be able to attend the conference and make the announcement himself.

"We'll wait two weeks, we've already waited 37 years," St. Pierre said.

Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc.
Contact: letters@times-standard.com
Website: Times-Standard Online - Home
 
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