By Jennifer Alexander
Week after week, we have called on volunteers to sign up to help us with the many tasks necessary to be effective in lobbying the public and our government for positive reforms for marijuana consumers here in Oregon. Many of you have checked the box that you are willing to volunteer and we want you to know how important and vital those efforts are to our success. This past week, two of our volunteers, Bob and Byron, helped man a booth at the Cannabis Creative Conference. We want to give them tremendous thanks to being there representing Portland NORML!
I'll be frank with you - Portland NORML is currently in its infancy stage. NORML is a well-known name in the Portland area, but we are a new chapter looking to play an active role in helping shape the future of legal cannabis for the benefit of consumers. While many of the board members and current members have long been affiliated with NORML, what we are currently building is all new and from the ground up. We are still putting all the pieces in place to have a firm foundation for our efforts. We have a great group of people helping us create this new organization, but currently, most of the things we have done have been coordinated and manned by the seven board members. It is quickly becoming apparent that we need help, and a lot of it. We even need help motivating, directing and organizing the help we have been offered. Despite the recent legalization of marijuana in Oregon, there is still a lot of work to be completed. Our Executive Director, Russ Belville, summarized a few of the more pressing issues for consumers currently in a High Times article.
We need a lot more members to sign up, both free associates and paid active members; both are very important to our success. We need a lot more volunteers with initiative that come to us and say "Do you know what I would like to do for Portland NORML?" and share their ideas for what we can do to have an impact and what role they can play in making it happen. We need help coordinating the volunteers, including people that help us man the booths and host events, along with the grunt work, like setting up and breaking down after meetings and events or helping ensure a smooth transition between volunteer shifts when manning a booth or hosting an event. We need people to help photograph and record events, as well as create graphical art that we can use for our newsletters and articles. There are probably a whole bunch of other things we need that we haven't even thought of yet - tell us what you can do!
If you look around, the voice of cannabis reform is almost primarily found in industry organizations (ie those in the business of marijuana) and governmental bodies (those tasked with regulating marijuana or enforcing marijuana laws). There aren't really any voices speaking on behalf of those who use marijuana. This is why it is so important that we obtain a lot of support in ensuring that the voice of Portland NORML can be represented in as many venues as possible and that means a lot of very involved, active volunteers are vital to our success.
Our newsletter, which is free to anyone simply by signing up with your email address, is intended to help keep you informed about what is happening that is important to consumers. We hear a lot about what matters to non-consumers in the news, or even what matters to those involved in cannabis-related businesses, but who is speaking on behalf of those who actually consume marijuana? That is where Portland NORML comes in, and where you come in. We need all our members, both associates and active members, to become informed about the issues happening currently.
Then we need those well-informed individuals to help us challenge the voices that dominate the discussion currently. We need your help making sure that the consumer voice is heard, in as many venues as possible, and that consumers get a seat at the table when rules and regulations are being crafted, whether locally or at the state-level. Cannabis businesses and regulatory bodies are invited to testify about cannabis rules and regulations, but you will be hard pressed to find a consumer body that was invited to testify to date. The Rules Advisory Committees don't identify anyone speaking specifically on behalf of what consumers want, but do identify a number of regulatory bodies and businesses represented. Our voices need to be heard too!
For those that have already signed up to volunteer - first, thank you! And then, be assured we do want your help. If you haven't heard from us, and have ideas or thoughts on what you can do to help us with our mission, please contact us at email@example.com and share what you can do to help. If you haven't signed up as a volunteer, please consider doing so. Our volunteers are vital to our success!