Starting in November of 2015, we asked the cannabis community to nominate and vote for their favorite individuals, products, and organizations in the field for the inaugural Laurel Awards.
We weren’t sure what to expect, but we quickly took stock of the major players in the industry as more than 1,100 initial nominations and well over 7,500 official votes were submitted. The top winner by people’s choice in each of the ten categories will hold the honor for one year.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Winner of the Laurel for Most Influential Cannabis Industry Advocacy Group
It’s no surprise that this organization still holds relevance with the cannabis community. NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, is the longest-running and largest cannabis advocacy group in the world. The group focuses specifically on working to change cannabis and hemp laws at the local, state, and federal level.
Last year, NORML was involved in or closely followed several landmark reforms and upsets that influenced the cannabis community, bringing much-needed information from the front lines of the courts and legislature to the masses.
Keith Stroup, an Illinois attorney, founded the organization in the 1970s after being inspired by Ralph Nader’s fundraising prowess. Stroup’s work laid the foundation for cannabis activists for years to come, and the organization has grown to include nearly 200 of chapters worldwide. He still does advocacy work and blogs for the organization.
NORML is now headed by Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, with headquarters and staff in the Washington, D.C. area.
The nonprofit consists of several subsidiaries, including NORML PAC, NORML Foundation and NORML Business Network, all working to fund and tackle cannabis reform in different ways. The organization’s advisory board consists of celebrities and public figures who support legalization and advance the message in the media.
Though local chapters of any national organization are bound to experience flux and tension over time, NORML has been a steadfast resource for the community for longer than many of us have been around, and in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving, there’s something to be said for that.
To get involved, visit NORML.org.