Tracing consequences both seen and unseen.
John W. PayneA Perfectly NORML Event
Posted at 11:33 pm on April 15, 2010, by John W. Payne

Last Saturday, I spoke to the annual convention of the Missouri chapter of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) on the economics of marijuana legalization, and I was thoroughly impressed by the event. This surprised me because I halfway expected all the participants to be so high that they couldn’t follow a supply and demand graph. I joke, but the attitude is born out of experience.

I attended several NORML events back in college, and there was always a NORML contingent whenever Students for a Sensible Drug Policy brought in a speaker. There was never any tension between the groups to my knowledge, but I was always more than a little underwhelmed by NORML as an organization in those days. I think it might have been the guy that got up and sang a marijuana themed version of the national anthem after Mike Gray spoke that began my disillusionment with the group, but it wasn’t just that. At times it seemed that dreadlocks and a distinct odor of patchouli was a prerequisite for membership in NORML, and members often crossed the line between advocating an end to marijuana prohibition and simply advocating the drug itself. There were always members of NORML that I respected and thought really cared about the issue, but I long ago ceased to think of them as a very serious organization.

That changed on Saturday. Most attendees were dressed well, and no one ever suggested that world problems could be solved if everyone would just get high. Certainly a large percentage of the people there used marijuana, but the vast majority of them looked and sounded like responsible individuals, not the stoner caricatures I had often encountered in the past. The speaker lineup was also superb, featuring a couple ex-police officers, the current mayor of a Missouri town, a former district attorney, and a number of defense attorneys. Finally, there were a number of African-American participants, which was heartening given the disproportionate impact the drug war has on black communities and lack of minority involvement I had seen at previous NORML events. (NORML is hardly alone among drug law reform groups with this problem, however.) In short, what I saw on Saturday was a far more disciplined, professional group fighting to legalize marijuana. If this is a national trend, the prohibitionists should be very worried.

Filed under: Drug Policy
Comments: 2 Comments


  1. I always said I would go to NORML events when they started enforcing a dress code.

    Comment by vroman — 2010-04-16 @ 10:20 am

  2. Well, I still don’t think there is any official dress code, but people were dressed far more respectably this time than I have ever seen before.

    Comment by John Payne — 2010-04-16 @ 10:22 am

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Henry Hazlitt"[T]he whole of economics can be reduced to a single lesson, and that lesson can be reduced to a single sentence. The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."
Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson






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