On the Sept. 24 edition of Real Time, Maher introduced Druyan, who is Carl Sagan’s widow, as the “head” of NORML. Druyan clarified that she’s chairman of the board of directors. Both were wrong. Maher should know that executive director Allen St. Pierre is the “head” of NORML. And Druyan chairs the NORML Foundation, not the NORML board of directors.
When Druyan attempted to explain that NORML runs things “loose,” Maher launced into his tired refrain: “That’s why the marijuana movement hasn’t really ever gone anywhere. The people in charge set their own hours. We need a Karl Rove type lobbyist to move this.”
Druyan chairs the NORML Foundation, which is the source of this blog, our live show, and our podcast, and therefore, half my paycheck (NORML pays the other half for Outreach Coordinator duties – I work two jobs for NORML, like most of us do). I’m in charge here and I set my own hours. Here’s the breakdown of a typical slacker weekday, Bill:
- 7am – waking up, often from a phone call coming from the East Coast (I’m on the West) from a chapter in need of assistance or an activist looking to form a NORML chapter;
- 8am – in front of my computer, reading, researching, and analyzing the cannabis news of the day. I will usually write 2,000-10,000 words a day.
- 11am – my dog may have persuaded me to get out of my chair to walk him by now. This next two hours is spent prepping for live interviews, composing show graphics, downloading and uploading the music.
- 1pm – performing my daily show (not weekly, Bill) which lasts two hours (not one, Bill) that has had one vacation of two weeks in two years (not four long breaks per year, Bill), with the help of two part-time and ten occasional volunteers (not a paid union HBO crew, Bill) donating their efforts to help end marijuana prohibition. (I bet you make more in one episode than I make all month… maybe all year! But to be fair, your production values and guests blow mine away.)
- 3pm – My break for the day – a half hour to walk the dog and get lunch…
- 3:30pm – Back to the computer, now reading and answering personally the 100-200 emails I get per day and writing more stories for tomorrow’s show
- 8pm – 10pm – Sometime in the latter hours of the evening I finally finish up with writing articles, answering emails, building charts, analyzing laws and initiatives, organizing activists nationwide.
That’s easily a twelve-hour day I spend each weekday, plus the meetings I attend on weekends and the almost monthly flights to cover an event somewhere in the US, like next weekend when I’ll be in San Bernardino.
Meanwhile, Bill Maher sits on our “advisory board”, but the only advice we ever get is insulting jabs on his talk show about “stoners not getting up for that 8am meeting on Capitol Hill” and us needing to hire a “Karl Rove-type” lobbyist, which might be a salary we could pay if our well-heeled celebrity supporters would kick down a check now and then. Since he’s been on that advisory board, he spoke for us once at a national conference in 2002 and… well, that’s it, and we had to pay him for that to happen.
While Bill Maher is insulting us, we’re actually working to reform marijuana laws and not just making stoner jokes on HBO. For example:
- Oregon NORML is generating international headlines by opening up a cannabis cafe in the Pacific Northwest, passing an industrial hemp bill, and getting commitment to introduce a legalization bill in Oregon in 2011;
- PhillyNORML is working with Pennsylvania lawmakers to introduce medical marijuana legislation;
- Joplin (Missouri) NORML is passing lowest-law-enforcement priority initiatives;
- California NORML is advising Assemblymember Ammiano to introduce legalization bills, and providing crucial analysis supporting Prop 19;
- Colorado NORML is involved in bringing marijuana education (cannabis colleges) to the state;
- Montana NORML is working to protect legal medical marijuana patients from freakin’ firebombings!;
- NORML New Jersey is fighting the Christie Administration to implement the medical marijuana law the last governor signed.
- MassCann/NORML, Madison NORML, Washington NORML, Kansas City NORML, Southern Oregon NORML, and many other chapters are holding public events to educate the public about marijuana law reform;
- Chapters have formed this year to educate people in some of the most marijuana-resistant areas of the country, in Alabama, Lousiana, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and even Utah!
- National NORML’s been working with Rep. Barney Frank and Rep. Ron Paul to introduce medical marijuana, decriminalization, and industrial hemp legislation; our deputy director co-authored a very popular book claiming marijuana is safer than alcohol; our director and legal counsel do thousands of interviews a year with everyone from the Washington Post to the Paducah Sun; and we present two legal seminars and a national conference every year where the top minds in reform network and strategize.
It might be a bit easy for us to lobby if our own celebrity supporters weren’t painting us all with the tired stoner slacker stereotypes our opponents offer. And say, where’s that big check from Bill Maher in support of Prop 19? Where’s that “Bill Maher for Prop 19″ web ad? Every free minute and dollar I have goes into NORML’s mission of ending marijuana prohibition… what about you, Bill?