I’m writing this to tell you this news directly. I will soon be departing my role as NORML’s Executive Director. It has been an amazing journey we have taken together, but the time now feels appropriate for me to begin a new chapter.

Just over six years ago, after an eight-year tenure serving as the organization’s Communications Director, I was honored to be chosen as NORML’s Executive Director. At the time, I hoped for, but I could never have truly predicted, the level of success and the stunning string of victories we achieved together in the ensuing years.

During my time as Executive Director, an additional 13 states legalized the adult use of marijuana. The US House of Representatives twice voted to repeal federal cannabis prohibition. And our President, once a former drug warrior, publicly admitted that the federal government’s long-standing war on marijuana consumers is nothing short of a policy failure and granted pardons to thousands of Americans with federal, low-level cannabis convictions.

These sort of advances were no more than wishful thinking when I assumed the Director’s role in November 2016. They would have been all but inconceivable when I first began my career with NORML in 2008, at a time when nearly one million of my fellow marijuana consumers were being placed in handcuffs every year, at a time when there were no adult-use legal states, and when the George W. Bush administration was declaring a ‘war’ on state-legal medical cannabis patients and their providers. How times have changed. Marijuana is now legal in some capacity in most states in this country, and public support for legalization is at an all-time high. The wind is at our backs, and even greater things are to come.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been challenges along the way. There have been many. But because we are a family, we stood together every step of the way and always kept up the fight. NORML was founded on the principles of serving as a vocal advocate for responsible cannabis consumers, and today we are still a grassroots organization that stays true to that mission.

That is why, as NORML’s Executive Director, I always sought to empower you – the cannabis community. We have never relied on any commercial and special interests to do our bidding. Instead, we have achieved our successes because regular Americans like you are willing to stand up and demand changes to our immoral and unjust laws.

I’ve spent fifteen years of my life committed to this movement, and during that time, I have worked full-time to advance NORML’s goals. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything in the world and am eternally grateful for my tenure here. While I certainly won’t disappear from the battle to legalize America, I want to assure you that moving forward, NORML will be in the safe hands of our incredibly talented and committed staff, who never cease to impress me with their commitment and passion. Moreover, our nationwide chapter network of volunteers will continue the critical work of grassroots organizing and effecting change at the local and state level. Without these thousands of individuals stepping up and doing the hard work that must be done at the local level, we’d likely still be stuck in the dark ages of prohibition.

Finally, I want to personally thank you – members of NORML’s extended family. Without you – the tens of thousands of NORML supporters around the globe – there truly would be no NORML at all. Thanks to your support throughout the past years, be it financial support or the commitment of your time and energy, we are entering the era of cannabis legalization, destigmatization, and normalization.

With our staff, affiliates, board, and supporters firmly in place, I know that NORML’s future is bright. I am more optimistic than ever that we will achieve our ultimate goal of ending marijuana prohibition nationwide. I will continue to be involved in this movement and this important fight for justice and civil liberties. Now, more than ever, a grassroots consumer voice is critical. That is why NORML must remain a powerful presence advocating for the ideals we hold dear.

As I reflect upon the past six years, I am reminded of the first letter I wrote to all of you when I initially assumed this position in November 2016. The final paragraph rings just as much true now as it did then, and it seems a potent way to turn the page into NORML’s next phase:

“NORML only exists and succeeds because of the support of passionate and dedicated individuals like you. With you standing shoulder to shoulder with us, we will continue to take our fight to city councils, state legislatures, and to Congress. Together, we are unstoppable. Together, we WILL legalize marijuana nationwide.”

Let’s get it done.

Onward and upward,

Erik Altieri

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