Lucy Matthews, NORML Intern

1. Why were you motivated to apply to intern with NORML?

a. Lucy: Growing up in Texas, I witnessed firsthand the effects of the war on drugs and the detrimental impact that harsh, racially driven criminal penalties for marijuana possession have on various  communities. Currently, those with marijuana possession convictions in Texas may not expunge those records, gatekeeping them from reliable housing, employment, and parental rights. My motivation to apply at NORML was to learn more about  marijuana research, lawmaking, and the current state of the political debate on its national legalization. Interning with NORML helped further my interest in cannabis policy reform as I continue my master’s degree in justice and law at American University.

2. What did your day-to-day routine look like?

a. Lucy: The office routine changed between remote and in-person days. On days when I would come into the office, we would start the morning by logging updates to the legislative efforts across the country that we were tracking. Upon completing these tasks, I would start drafting calls to action for bills that had been introduced in various states. This draft would be submitted to others for editing before being sent out to constituents so that they could take action.

After drafting these calls to action, we would also work on drafting legislative testimony for bills that were scheduled for committee hearings. After drafting testimony, it’s about lunchtime, and interns would  leave the office for an hour to grab lunch. On certain days of the month, interns meet with Deputy Director Paul Armentano for a weekly check-in regarding any outstanding events or questions we may have had. Did the internship meet and/or exceed your expectations? How has it impacted your next steps

The internship did meet my expectations and it will  impact my future career goals in the cannabis industry. I believe that before I can work with cannabis commercially, there is still  much to be done at the jurisdictional level, and that begins with greater advocacy and outreach to consumers and non-users alike. While I finish my degree at American University, I want to continue working in cannabis legal spaces where I can directly assist those convicted of marijuana sale and possession charges . 

4. What was it like to work in a hybrid position in Washington, D.C.?

NORML Office
The interns’ office at NORML on K Street in Washington, DC

a. Lucy: I enjoyed working at a hybrid position in Washington D.C. Despite the city’s efficient metro and bus system, I found it difficult to get to work and class in a timely manner using public transportation. Even when using a car or bike, paying for parking was ridiculous and out of the question for most employees coming into the office. Working remotely allowed me to enact change without the challenges of creating a traditional office setting, which I found to be helpful when managing my schedule this semester.

5. If you could give any advice to new NORML interns, what would you say?

a. Lucy: I would advise the interns to talk to Deputy Director Paul Armentano as much and as often as they can (without bothering him) because he was an incredible resource throughout the internship, and he is knowledgeable on all subjects of cannabis law and medical marijuana benefits. Paul’s weekly meetings with the interns helped me form my own questions and evaluations on the current policy issues we wrote bills on. 

When drafting action alerts, try to analyze legislation from the consumers’ standpoint rather than the business or economic perspective. NORML’s mission is to stand up for the rights of responsible cannabis consumers and it is important that our legislative efforts don’t lose sight of this.

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