I’m pleased to announce that I, Jason Edward Miller, was elected Executive Director of Houston NORML on June 19, 2014. It is a great honor for me to serve in this role and lead our organization over the next year.
I want to give a special thanks to Steve Nolin for his outstanding leadership and service to our cause that he has provided in countless ways over the past two decades. He has kept our chapter alive and growing. He has appeared in the media and educated the public about the devastating effects that prohibition has on our communities. He has served as a delegate to the Texas Democratic Party Convention numerous times and has served on committees and assisted with making sure that support for marijuana law reform is included in the party platform.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with Mr. Nolin over the past year. Personally, it meant a great deal to me that Mr. Nolin was the individual who nominated me for this position and asked me to lead our organization going forward. As a passing of the torch has now taken place, it is with the utmost respect and admiration that I thank our previous Executive Director, Steve Nolin, as we are all grateful to have him continue to be an important member of our chapter.
I look forward to working with our other board members, Tracey Guerrero, Dan Wilson, Christopher Sum, and CJ Heinemann. It is honor to serve along side you to move this organization forward and work toward our goals of reforming marijuana laws.
Over the next year, our chapter will make great strides. We will grow our membership, we will concentrate on fundraising, political activism, media, outreach, and raising awareness in our communities. We will focus on becoming more organized and more influential. We will form alliances with other political organizations in Harris County. We will coordinate closely with other Texas chapters of NORML as well as other marijuana law reform organizations operating in our great state.
Houston NORML is without a doubt the most influential marijuana law reform organization in Harris County. The people involved with our chapter are a close-knit family, we are a comradery, and over the next year we will spend more time getting to know each other and making new friends. Most importantly, we will have a ton of fun.
Unlike most other states, Texas does not have a voter initiative process. We must work to pass reforms through the state legislature. In order to accomplish this, we must be politically active. That means scheduling meetings to sit down and talk to our elected officials. Writing them letters informing them of why it makes sense for them to support our cause and asking them where they stand on issues like medical marijuana, decriminalization, industrial hemp, and taxing and regulating marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
As your Executive Director, I will work with the other board members of our chapter and with each of you so we are aware of which districts you reside in. We will help you find this information, identify your state representatives and state senators, and form relationships with them and with their staff so we can communicate effectively and discuss these issues.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to have a strong presence within the Harris County Democratic Party and the Harris County Republican Party. Party politics is not for everyone and that’s OK. It requires time spent going to meetings and social events for other political organizations. It requires getting to know the people in the scene, making friends and forming alliances. It takes a little bit of experience to learn how to be effective working along side other political people who may be supportive of our cause but have other issues that are a greater priority to them. It also takes a great deal of persistence, practice and patience to communicate effectively with people who are not supportive of our cause and educate them on why prohibition is so harmful and how reforming marijuana laws will help our communities.
I also want to stress the importance of the work being done by the Harris County Libertarian Party. They are strong supporters of our cause and they are important allies. I want to personally say that I believe everyone involved with the Harris County Libertarian Party should also be involved with Houston NORML.
Houston NORML is a non-partisan organization. This doesn’t mean that our members are not involved in partisan politics. It means that we have members involved in every political party who believe in different ideologies. It means we are diverse and we are able to reach a broad audience. It means we can unite people to stand together on this issue.
Regardless of political party, your elected officials WORK FOR YOU. You can contact them, call them, email them, and visit them in person. As a chapter, we will work to make sure that each and every one of you is equipped and able to make an impact.
We all have our own unique talents and skill sets. Some of you may be skilled at marketing, fundraising, outreach, or logistics. While others may be skilled at graphic design, audio and video editing, writing and communications, or social media. Some of you may choose to volunteer and help us form committees to assist us in one or more of these areas. Some of us have great people skills and some of us have great computer skills. We are all different and we can all contribute to the cause in our own way. The leadership of Houston NORML will work closely with our member base, with each and every one of you, to identify how you can help the cause and to empower you and give you the tools and resources you need to be effective.
I want to encourage all of you to consider serving on our Board of Directors. We have many vacancies that need to be filled. Unfortunately, we cannot be nearly as effective as an organization until each of these positions have been filled by someone willing and able to carry out the duties. For those of you who want to volunteer and help us without serving on our board, we can form committees and appoint you to serve on a committee. A great deal of important work can get done very efficiently when small teams work to carry out these tasks.
We are all part of this cause together, we can all learn a great deal from each other, and we are all learning more and more every day. Teamwork is crucial and transparency is also crucial. I will work to make sure that going forward, key decisions made within our organization will involve input from every board member as well as the member base. I encourage all of you to come to our meetings, ask questions, and provide us with your input.
Going forward, we will have a monthly social event in addition to our monthly meetings. There will be at least two events per month: our monthly meeting held on the 3rd Thursday of each month (this is where we will conduct business); and a social event (this is where we will just hang out and have fun). Some of our social events will be co-hosted with other organizations, some will involve fun activities, and some will feature great speakers for us to hear from.
For those of you who are not yet an official member of Houston NORML, please join our chapter today to show your support for the cause. As a card-carrying member of our chapter, you will receive a member card, a T-shirt and other goodies with your membership. We will be able to equip you with important tools you will need to make a difference. We will be able to contact you easily if we need your help as a constituent of a particular state representative or state senator. Over the next year our organization will grow tremendously and as we grow, we will become more powerful and influential. So join and encourage your friends to join. Come to our meetings and bring your friends with you. Let’s work together until the policy of marijuana prohibition is nothing more than an unfortunate chapter of Texas history.
Remember folks, it ain’t gonna legalize itself.