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Denver, CO- Well, it’s 4/21, early in the morning the day after. It’s a slow moving morning high in the Rockies, the sun is eye-level and sunglasses are useless. Downtown Denver is already alive with commerce. The city’s lodging has been booked-full of activists and stoners, domestic and international, and interested others who have joined ranks for a week-long victory lap celebrating Colorado’s passage of Amendment 64, allowing for personal use of marijuana for adults. The High Times Expo across town is in its second day with no signs of slowing down until summer. The genie’s out of the bottle as they say, and the town’s spirits are more than high. It was the place to be on April 20, 2013.
On the fifteenth floor of a hotel overlooking the hub of the city, NORML Women’s Alliance (NWA) is hosting a ‘Wake-N-Bake’ brunch at the esteemed Warwick Hotel sponsored by Pure Hemp Rolling Papers Unlike the stodginess of many corporate affairs, NORML Women’s Alliance is fun. It doesn’t have the basement feeling of an Elk’s Club or Shriner’s meeting; the pounding of a gavel or the inability to stop and ask for directions if the meeting is losing its focus.
With NWA, if something doesn’t go exactly right, it’s cool. Not every little thing needs to be fixed perfectly. Especially when you’re going for a bigger picture, like trying to change the world.
It was a beautiful wake-up call for a Sunday morn.
Board Directors Kyndra Miller, Madeline Martinez, Diane Fornbacher, Greta Gaines and Executive Director Sabrina Fedrick cheerfully thanked the fifty or so attendees for having the strength to make it this far in the weekend.
Each woman, a powerhouse in their own worlds, spoke organically and simply on their roles and the need for the Women’s Alliance. Many in the room were already familiar with the territory NWA is trying to bridge—women traditionally lag 10 to 20 percentage points in the polls behind men when it comes to being “out” regarding anything weed. NWA is dedicated to educating a community on the perils of prohibition; protecting women, parents and families from a oftentimes over-zealous system that separates children from their homes. NWA’s goal is to be the Consumer Protection Service for consumers of cannabis, with the focus on the family.
“Many in the room were already familiar with the territory NWA is trying to bridge—women traditionally lag 10 to 20 percentage points in the polls behind men when it comes to being “out” regarding anything weed.”
Part of the reason for the brunch was the excitement of the announcement of the formation of the forthcoming NORML Women’s Alliance Foundation. Set to launch in June of this year, the gals from NORML are already thinking big. By not having the expense of a brick and mortar office but operating from a virtual space in the cloud, that opportunity cost will now go directly to community out-reach, breast cancer research and networks, cannabis research and of course, legal services and referrals for women who created the need for NORML Women’s Alliance.
Singer-songwriter Greta Gaines put the ‘fun’ back in fundraising with a rousing live auction. The Nashville resident cracked jokes and took bids on exquisite glass pipes, artwork donated by Madeline Martinez, and Ladybud Magazine t-shirts that went for really fair prices, which also included a signed copy of, “It’s NORML to Smoke Pot” by the guest speaker and founder of NORML, Keith Stroup.
It was truly an honor to be able to hear Keith speak in such an intimate setting. Without a microphone, the banquet room was hushed as Keith quietly hammered home the importance of NORML Women’s Alliance.
“I started out like so many — in the anti-war movement of the Sixties. This was before the draft. If you were eighteen and could walk up the steps at the draft board, you were going to Vietnam.” Keith holds a copy of his book in hands. “I’m in good shape and feel great, but as I read the obituaries in the papers, more and more, I notice ages, younger than me. I wanted to have a history of NORML, our fight and provide insight into the insanity of the Drug War.”
Keith runs his hand through his long, flat white hair, thinking.
“I’m honored to be here today. There are other activists and policy projects out there…but they’re usually privately funded. (NWA) represents the people. They’re on the front lines, mostly on their own dime.”
“We know what’s going on. How long have we been driving on the road, as pot smokers? Forty years or so? How many accidents have there been on the road because of stoners? It’s nonexistent. It’s time we take our place in society! We’re close but the fight remains…”
There was major applause as the NORML headman went back to his breakfast table bracing a gauntlet of hugs and handshakes.
The Women of NORML really flexed their muscles this week. From woman-ing the booth at the High Times Expo for 10 hours a day, meeting and greeting, signing up potential members and spreading the ganja gospel, then celebrating with local activists and politicians at night, while preparing for the next chapter with the birth of their Foundation—these goddesses are busy.
For more information and to inquire how you can contribute: http://normlwomensalliance.
FROM THE WOMEN THEMSELVES:
“When I’m asked why I stick my neck out, put on the benefits and events at Portland’s World Famous Cannabis Café…because I have to. I’m very proud to stand before you as a Latina…and very angry. The disproportionate ratio of people of color in our prison systems is egregious. This is why NORML Women’s Alliance is so important for me.”
“I consider it a privilege to be working in the same office as Keith Stroup for all these years. He’s an inspiration.”
“NORML Women’s Alliance is not a stand-alone organization. We’re proud to stand with other activists and community outreach groups… to help and assist anyway we can. In the past, we’ve assisted with phone banks and using our networks, our database to expedite information, and get stuff done. It’s about community; it’s not always about cannabis.”
“We need to stop arresting people. We need to stop this War on Drugs. We need to protect women, children and families from our insane drug policy. That’s why I believe in NORML Women’s Alliance.”