On October 22nd, the recently established New York City chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) held its first award ceremony honoring some of the city’s top advocates and companies. Founded in May 2019, the group represents one of the newest entrants to the organization that now boasts over 150 chapters in the U.S. and abroad. New York State has several branches, including Long Island, Hudson Valley and Western New York.
New York City chapter Deputy Director Ryan Lepore said that the group was born out of a need to further represent New York City in the cannabis community. Lepore explained that, while unified, the New York State cannabis community has slightly differing views and priorities. He said the same of the cannabis community within New York City. The award show was one attempt to solidify all parties further.
“What we want to do is bring together the community that already exists…the community that is pretty unified, but also extremely fragmented,” Lepore said. Such fragmentation can be found on topics like home growing and equitable social measures, among numerous others. The latter is seen as one of the most significant parameters in garnering support for an adult-use bill amongst voters and lawmakers in the state.”
As Lepore notes, New York City’s chapter represents just one facet of a continually growing NORML. This includes the views of legalized nations, like Canada. In October, NORML Canada launched its post-legalization platform to represent the first-year of adult use cannabis in the country. The anniversary also marked the legalization of cannabis products like concentrates, edibles and topicals, which will hit store shelves in mid to late December.
NORML Canada’s platform calls for, among other parameters, increased access, civil justice measures and protections against social discrimination.
In Manhattan, the organization took steps to promote cannabis community involvement in the legalization process. The group partnered with the Cannabis Voters Project for the evening. The partnership allowed attendees to register to vote and contact their legislators.
Buddy’s Bodega, Higher Standard, Saucey and VIBES Paper sponsored the award show. In addition to branded sponsors, 17 community partners took part, including High NY, the Cannabis Cultural Association and the Last Prisoner Project. NORML chapters from New York and New Jersey also sponsored the event.
“It was great seeing so many New York cannabis community leaders together in one place, honoring each other’s work,”