New direction for NORML?

Wait…Are you guys serious?

UPDATE: The REAL details put forth by NORML on the situation. many thanks to Norm Kent for clearing up Steve Bloom’s premature and inaccurate reporting. 

Dear friends,
Having seen the posts this morning concerning Allen St. Pierre, the Executive Director of NORML, I am writing in my capacity as the Vice Chair of NORML.
Please post this for the sake of accuracy. Sometimes a lie can get half way around the world before the truth catches up with it.
The purpose of this communication is to verify and affirm responses posted to each of you by Paul Armentano, our Deputy Director, and Keith Saunders, one of our Board members.
Very simply, as of this date, Allen St. Pierre has not been terminated as the Executive Director of NORML. At this time, there is no guarantee that this will ever happen and the publication is premature and inaccurate.
Since this matter has gone public, I believe the public is owed an explanation as to what is transpiring.
First, in-between its board meetings, the Executive Committee of NORML has the full authority to act for the Board.
Second, at the conclusion of this year’s successful NORML conference in LA, members of the Executive Committee met with Mr. St. Pierre and advised him that at our next Board meeting in Key West on November 28, 2012 the following motion will be presented to the Board:
“Shall the Board of Directors approve  appointing a search  committee for a new executive director?”
Third, the Chair, Paul Kuhn, asked Mr. St. Pierre if he was in accord with this motion, and Mr. St. Pierre summarily and demonstratively rejected the proposal, saying he had no intention of resigning from NORML, and that he had never published comments to Mr. Kuhn or others offering to do so.
Fourth, in fact, Mr. St. Pierre, who himself is a member of the Board of Directors, suggested that Paul Kuhn should resign from his position as Chair, and he would ask the Board for such a vote.
Therefore, as it stands now, to be as fair and honest as possible to everyone, there will be at least two countervailing motions on the table for the Board of Directors at its next meeting, one asking for a search committee  to seek out a new ED, and one asking to remove the Chair, and maybe even members of the Executive Committee.
It is not my goal to wash our dirty linens in public, but it is also not my desire to see false information disseminated with the damaging residual consequences that brings forth. So I publish these comments to bring people up to date on actually what has happened and what may happen.
So there we have it.
Thank you.
Norm Kent,
Vice Chair,
In an earlier report by Steve Bloom reported last night that NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre was fired yesterday by the NORML Board of Directors. Here is an excerpt from the story:

After making the final speech of the 41st-annual NORML Conference in Los Angeles at the Omni Hotel on Saturday, during which he said, “I’ve hit a nadir with NORML,” executive director Allen St. Pierre was fired by the Board of Directors, CelebStoner has learned.

Though no announcement has been made, St. Pierre’s absence from the post-conference party at The Hemp Museum was conspicuous.

St. Pierre has been battling with a contentious board for several years. The recent takeover of the board by Paul Kuhn left St. Pierre more vulnerable.

I am not sure if anyone saw this as a big surprise. When you are the leader of an organization that is consistently criticized for lack of leadership and vision there is a pretty big problem. Allen St. Pierre has led NORML to the brink of collapse and has had very little real accomplishments to show for his 7 years of work as the Executive Director. Of course the entire reason for NORML’s ineffectiveness is not completely Allen St. Pierre’s fault, but his leadership also has brought little to nothing to the table for them.

The big question now is who will replace Allen, and even more, will they be capable of making NORML more dynamic, innovative, and effective? Is there a person out there who can lead the charge towards cannabis freedom without drama, hurt feelings, and dissension in the ranks?

As NORML looks to replace Allen my hope would be that they do not just grab the first guy standing around the water cooler to fill that role. Cannabis activists, and NORML supporters deserve a real change. Not just in person, but also in philosophy, direction, and the way they understand the social and political environment that we are leading this battle in.

The word on the street is that NORML is flat broke. Celebstoner states that they have “long run deficits,” as MPP and DPA have received most of the reform funding over the past years. So obviously just bringing on some high-priced empty suit to fill the role is not the answer. It seems that NORML will have to figure out how to run a more lean and powerful team if they want to compete. They will have to begin to put their resources into more strategic planning and implementation of reform campaigns, rather than over-payed leadership that is little more than a showpiece for the organization.

But maybe we have come to a fork in the road. Maybe the folks at NORML, and MPP, and DPA, and LEAP, and SSDP, and all of the other organizations fighting for the same reform dollars need to look deeply at their organizations and ask themselves if we can continue to afford to split up the resources to pull in so many directions when we are fighting for the same thing? I think the community is tired of having so many different groups sending fundraising emails, throwing fundraising events, asking for donations and using those resources for vastly different, and mostly lackluster, efforts to end the drug war and to promote cannabis freedom.

NORML could consider merging with another reform group to combine forces and create a more powerful organization; or better yet, could we merge all of the organizations into a cannabis super power, like the NRA or something? Maybe, but doubtful.

My guess is that the NORML Board will appoint one of its own and continue down the path of ineffectiveness. There is very little fire in the belly of the folks at NORML these days, so it would not surprise me to see them opt for the status quo. I would hope not, but 40 years of history tell us differently. Maybe they can hire Keith Stroup back! Oh wait…he never went anywhere did he?

My opinion, as a lowly weed activist, is that I would like to see a real change in direction and the way NORML does business. I would like to see less focus on patting themselves on the back, and more interest in attacking our enemies’ position with agressive tactics and messaging. Sitting back throwing a conference in a different weed city every year and “answering the phones” is not progress. It has become more of a pageant than a march for cannabis freedom.

I am not sure who would be the greatest person to fill the role of NORML Executive Director. Only time will tell. I just hope it is someone that I can find inspirational, and whose conviction and dedication may actually lead us to ending cannabis prohibition. I do not think that is too much to ask.

UPDATE from NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano:

This report is not true. Allen St. Pierre remains NORML’s Executive Director. There have been no changes made regarding the NORML leadership. Only a vote by the Board could institute such changes and no such vote has taken place. It is unfortunate that Steve’s speculation is causing major confusion among those who follow this issue and NORML.

Paul Armentano
NORML Deputy Director


Apparently Steve Bloom from got his cart out in front of his horse on this one….again. But there has also been no denying that St. Pierre will be fired at the next Board Meeting. In two statements from NORML Board members there has been NO word that NORML does indeed intend to go forward with St. Pierre as ED.

One thought on “New direction for NORML?”

  1. This is no surprise to me, since several months ago, St Pierre once again denounced medical marijuana as a “sham” & a “fraud”, in the face of a federal assault as well as a shift toward greater recognition of medical in Ca NORML. After I complained about St Pierre’s outrageous prosecutor-like comments on DPFCA and SaveCannabis email lists, Gieringer contacted me asking where I saw Allen’s comments and to rest assured they were dealing with it.
    Well, apparently the impasse remains and NORML’s plan for dealing with the division is to replace St. Pierre at the next board meeting. “Bringing on some high-priced empty suit to fill the role is not the answer”, according to Paul Armentano. Of course his comment assumes the replacement will be male (and white if historical tradition tells us anything). Why not break the mold: try a woman, someone from NORML Women’s Alliance, like Kyndra Miller, who is a competent energetic cannabis lawyer, neither male nor white, not jaded, tired or tiring? pt

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