“May it be to the world, what I believe it will be … the signal of arousing men to burst the chains … and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. …For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.”
– Thomas Jefferson, June 24,1826
Our founding fathers were absolutely not flawless and neither was our founding government. It was never meant to be a static ideal, but an ongoing process to form “a more perfect union,” an exercise in the democratic process by which, over time, we would continue to refine and improve upon the foundations laid out in 1776. When our nation was first formed, the freedoms touted in our Constitution and the truths that were “self-evident” in our Declaration of Independence were at first largely only granted to white, landowning males. Over time, we began to work towards more closely realizing the America that existed on paper. Thanks to the passion and struggle of countless Americans who lost life, limb, or livelihood in pursuit of expanding liberty and freedom to all Americans – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, country of origin, gender identity, or class status. The fight for true freedom for all of us in this country is ongoing and there is still much work to be done on countless fronts.
At NORML, as a marijuana law reform advocacy organization, we focus on amending and repealing our nation’s draconic marijuana policies that have denied liberty and prosperity to millions of our fellow citizens as a way to help us take another step toward a better and more just United States. Over the last fifty years, we fought back against punitive laws that have put far too many Americans in handcuffs and in prison cells, overwhelmingly Black and brown Americans. We work to help defend those who were denied an education, child custody, employment, or safe housing because of a marijuana charge on their record and we champion a policy of legalization and regulation to create a new and responsible industry that can contribute to rectifying the harms of the War on Cannabis.
Never forget that, as it says in our Declaration of Independence, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Well, the American people are using that power to demand an end to prohibition and that we move on to the legalization of marijuana across this country. We have many new freedoms to celebrate this year, with Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Montana, and Virginia having finally ceased the arrest of adults for marijuana possession.
Unfortunately, while nearly 50% of our population now lives in a jurisdiction where marijuana has been legalized, that means the other half of our country lives under the oppressive reign of prohibitionist policies. Even with all the progress we have made together over the years, over 500,000 Americans are still arrested annually for marijuana charges.
That is not a reason to despair, however, that is a reason to soldier on with the newfound drive. We ARE winning the debate. We ARE impacting real change. We ARE bringing prohibition crumbling down across the nation. We just need to finish this fight.
So, to celebrate the freedoms we have fought so hard to win and to recommit to bringing that liberty to the rest of our compatriots, I’m asking you to take a stand this Fourth of July for marijuana law reform. Together we have made it this far; together we will cross that finish line.
Can we count you in?
We need the resources to carry on our important policy work at the state and federal level. The best way you can help is to sign up as a recurring NORML member, even $5 a month helps us keep the pressure going.
We need you to reach out to your elected officials and demand change.
I know we will one day soon live in an America where prohibition is an embarrassing and disgraceful memory. I know we will get there because we are united and aren’t going to quit.
Let’s get it done,
NORML Executive Director