What is NORML?
Its sole mission is to successfully repeal one law: the ban on marijuana. NORML, which stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, meets every week in an open forum setting to plan out an agenda for the week. They discuss concerns, plan events and brainstorm fundraiser ideas, similar to any other club.
While the club only has 10 active members, according to president Amrith Wadhera, it still is an incredibly reliable group and the number of participants doesn’t worry him.
“We have 133 members on Facebook,” Wadhera said in an e-mail. “I’ve been a member of [another political group] on campus who you think would have a lot more coming to their meetings, but they never had more than we do right now.”
Although Towson’s NORML club has not yet been accepted to the national chapter of NORML, it did go through the usual process of being ratified by the Student Government Association.
Wadhera said he was pleased with the open views the SGA had regarding his group and that only two people voted against the group’s establishment.
“I just had to explain what NORML has been doing since the mid-70s,” he said. “There is no reason not to approve of a group that simply [advocates] reforming marijuana laws.”
Jillian Koller, former SGA attorney general, said she helped Wadhera write and review the constitution for Towson NORML and was present at Wadhera’s appeal the previous year.
“There were definitely chuckles on the side, especially from some of the new senators who weren’t sure of the rules and who weren’t sure if the group was even allowed,” she said. “We had passed a similar group before and they dissolved and Towson NORML took its place.”
Toni Lopes, a junior anthropology major and member of Towson NORML, said the group’s goals involve expansion and awareness of NORML’s presence on campus.
“We want to make flyers, have a bake sale, pass out bracelets,” she said “Our big goal we could get to is having [marijuana] decriminalized in Baltimore. I don’t know how
much will get done. That’s why I’m trying to come to the meetings.” Lopes admits to smoking, but said Wadhera is strict and avoids any affiliation with drug usage. He
does not allow any NORML members to bring any substances to meetings.
“He wants to avoid that ‘stoner’ label and focus on the mission of getting it legalized,” she said.
Wadhera said it is difficult to change the general populace’s mind about marijuana.
“I understand the ignorance [people] have been taught in schools about marijuana and also from parents and community figures growing up,” Wadhera said. “I went through a public school system which taught me lies about marijuana. It is hard for anyone to accept the fact what they were taught was wrong.”
One of the goals of NORML is to inform the general public of the true facts of the drug, as well as educate on its cultural aspects.
“I would bring up the topic of changing marijuana laws and people would simply dismiss it as absurd and goofy. This includes a few professors,”
Wadhera said. “I understand that marijuana users may be portrayed in some movies like ‘Half Baked’ as stoner burnouts who go nowhere in life … but Dave Chapelle meant to create a commentary on the culture marijuana prohibition has created.”
According to Wadhera, in comparison to alcohol, which he thinks is more prevalent on most college campuses, marijuana isn’t nearly as harmful, and he doesn’t understand how something safer than alcohol abuse is still illegal.
“I am simply pointing out the facts people don’t like to hear,” he said. “Alcohol is something that is destructive on so many levels in society, and then [you] compare it to a herb which is safer than aspirin and fatty foods? … Big alcohol companies just don’t want to lose their precious money to a herb.”