What a year it’s been…we know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from us, so we wanted to take this time to let you know we’re still here and have big plans for 2021!
Let’s take a look back at how the year started and where we are now…
This year started off being THE YEAR we were goingto finally legalize cannabis in NY, the right way.
We started the year off ready to negotiate with Governor Cuomo to get a bill passed that serves ALL New Yorkers.
Even though events were put on hold as of March – We still had 8 in person events this year:
- January 11th, 18th, and 25th – Effective Grassroots Lobbying Trainings
- January 28th – Lobby Day and Schedule
- February 12th – Lobby Day
- February Monthly Membership & Networking Event: Home Cultivation
Plus 2 virtual lobby days this year, coordinating with dozens of organizations around the state to flood Albany with phone calls, emails, and social media posts.
We had many gracious sponsors this year to help support our work and community:
- Mad Hatters Hideaway
- Get Caked
- UUU Art Collective
- Light Within Candle
- Hashtag Hydro, Inc.
- Rochester RazorSharks
Roc NORML is run 100% by volunteers and the work we do is made entirely possible through donations and sponsorships. We cannot thank our sponsors enough for their generosity and helping us do this important work!
We had BIG plans for this year…
- Monthly Membership & Networking Events
- 4/20 Month long event series
And then mid-March COVID-19 shut down everything and we began to try and navigate what our next steps were going to be.
It became clear by early April we weren’t going to legalize this year – the government had other priorities they were focusing on (understandably so) – and the resources weren’t available around the state to have the necessary negotiation conversations. So the legalization conversation was tabled until 2021.
The Roc NORML Board of Directors was evaluating what our next steps were going to be, when in mid-April our Executive Director’s mother suddenly passed away. Since Roc NORML is run 100% by volunteers, we made a decision as an organization to put a pause on the organization while we all focused on trying to adjust to our new lives.
On September 2 news was released that Daniel Prude was murdered by the Rochester Police Department and his murder was covered up by the City of Rochester. We began to use our platform to help inform the community about what was happening and spread the message of Free the People Roc. Roc NORML is an Intersectional Cannabis Activism and Advocacy Organization – that means we believe no one is free until we are all free, and we believe that All Black Lives Matter.
Beginning in January 2021 Roc NORML will be donating 50% of our funds to a Community Reinvestment Fund, where we will work directly with organizers from Free the People Roc to determine where funds are most needed in our community, and donate the money under their discretion.
The idea behind the Community Reinvestment Fund iis taken directly from the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which says a percentage of tax revenue from marijuana legalization needs to go to a Community Reinvestment Grant. We believe cannabis has the power to build communities up, instead of tear them down, and we’re excited to see what our community can do to help support this initiative in 2021 and beyond!
In the November elections we welcomed Jeremy Cooney to the NY State Senate 56th District, replacing longtime incumbent Rich Funke who was adamantly opposed to marijuana legalization. Senator Cooney on the other hand has been a strong supporter of legalizing marijuana the right way in NY and we’re excited to have his voice representing Rochester in Albany, and to work with him in the upcoming session.
We also congratulated Assembly Member Harry Bronson on being re-elected to the NY Assembly 138th District, a co-sponsor on the MRTA and long time ally of marijuana justice and legalization efforts. In addition to these allies, we have other new representation for Rochester in Albany in several other Senate and Assembly seats and we are looking forward to working with these new elected officials on getting legalization passed the right way in 2021.
So what’s next?
Since we are still navigating COVID-19, until further notice we will only be participating in and hosting virtual events. With that being said…we have an exciting year ahead of us!
In January we already have two community based events on the calendar:
Sunday, January 24th FLWR City Harvest Cup: Roc NORML is a partnering organization for this event, which is a semiannual competition curated to build community and raise funds for reinvestment in community development initiatives. You can go to the event website now to learn more, and we’ll be sending our more details here in the coming weeks!
Sunday, January 31st Marijuana Justice, hosted by Free The People Roc and Roc NORML: This event will be a panel discussion about marijuana justice and the current political landscape surrounding marijuana legalization in NY. We’ll be sending our more details in the coming weeks about this event, so stay tuned!
Virtual Lobby Days: Normally we take buses to Albany and lobby in person in addition to “virtual lobby days”. Previously “virtual lobby days” allowed people to participate in lobbying from home by calling, emailing, and posting on social media.
This year will look quite a bit different since we know we won’t be able to go to Albany in person. Instead, we’ll be coordinating tele-conference meetings so you’ll have even more opportunities to participate from home.
We are currently planning more events and we’ll be sharing more information over the coming weeks and months about how you can get involved!
Roc NORML 2021 Memberships will be launching in January and we’ll be starting our Monthly Membership & Networking Events again, so watch out for more details about how you can become a member! If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor, please email rocnorml@localhost for more information.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking with us. We know the legislative process can feel endless and exhausting, but we truly believe 2021 will be the year we will legalize marijuana in NY, the right way! Thank you for staying persistent with us, or if you’re just joining us, welcome – we’re excited to have you come along with us on this journey to legalization in NY!