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National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws Interview

The National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws is a non-profit public interest group that was federally chartered in 1978. They aim to “eliminate all civil and criminal penalties for private marijuana use – through government lobbying, public education, research, and legislative and judicial challenges.” Furthermore they submit that “Cannabis should be fully legalized, and that its use, production, and distribution be properly regulated and taxed by provincial and local governments, much like alcohol and gambling.”


Abi Roach (Executive Director)

Twitter: @NORMLCanada



What is NORML’s mission and how do you go about fulfilling your objectives?

NORML has always had the mission statement of reforming marijuana laws. The post legalization mission will be to continue our work. Reforming the new cannabis framework, to shape functional and realistic policies, for all Canadians.

Why is marijuana legalization such an important issue when there are arguably more important matters in the world?


Cannabis Legalization is a matter of personal freedom. Creating criminals from otherwise law abiding citizens, is unproductive for society. The cannabis industry and community has much to offer in terms of jobs, income, and innovation. It is far more beneficial being legal than it ever was as a false criminal act.

What is NORML’s stance on privatized marijuana legalization versus governmentally controlled legalization?


Creating a privatized regime for cannabis not only creates economic value, it also helps de-stigmatize cannabis use. Marijuana, once legal, should be treated the same as any other legal substance. Whether it is for its medicinal or social benefits. It has been proven that by normalizing the consumption of a substance, youth use rates dramatically drop. As it is no longer a “cool” thing to do.

What does NORML say about the human health concerns raised by medical professionals in regards to marijuana consumption?

Now that cannabis is legal, it opens the door to real scientific research, rather than prohibition influenced taboos and stereotypes. We look forward to a new generation of researchers and their studies to know the real effects of use are. We strongly support healthier consumption methods, but we are also weary of existing scare tactic research

What is NORML’s reaction to the Canadian legalization model implemented by PM Trudeau? Is there anything NORML would want to change? 

Canada has taken a brave step on the world stage. Politics, laws and extreme social change require time and finesse. We see that they are trying to understand the consumers needs while weighing the greater public’s fears and needs in mind. We are in year one of a long term shift. We believe in a few years, once the cloud of stigma is lifted, cannabis will be a non-issue in the public eye, and policy will shift.

Why is legalization a better solution than decriminalization? 

Legalization is a complete step. While decriminalization is a step forward, it hits many snags. In countries that have decriminalized, you see many issues with distribution and production. Where you can possess a substance, but can not buy it or produce legally. Legalization creates a complete legal cycle.


Does NORML feel like the marijuana industry is going to be corporatized? 

There will be room for everyone. A good entrepreneur will be able to create a good business. The purpose of legalization is to include everyone in the legal system, from consumer to grower. Without inclusion, the law will fail.

What is the best argument you have heard against legalization?


“We don’t want to repeat the same mistakes post alcohol prohibition, we don’t want a new legal drug being normalized” - Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy

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