Marijuana advocacy group NORML shuts down in South Carolina

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The South Carolina chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advocacy group is shutting down after seven years.

The group lost four board members, including its treasurer, this year, making it difficult for the group to continue its work, founder Scott Weldon told The Post and Courier of Charleston.

Weldon said the group was fined $2,000 after it continued fundraising after failing to renew its nonprofit status.

“I had to make a decision,” Weldon, who is also a park ranger and podcaster, told the newspaper.

“Do I want to continue to deal with this every year, the angst and anxiety of getting these papers filed with the secretary of state?

“I don’t think we ever brought in more than $3,000 or $4,000 in a year. It’s not like we’re making big money or anything.”

Although a group of bipartisan lawmakers are still pushing to legalize medical cannabis and will reintroduce legislation in 2024, the demise of the NORML chapter could be a signal that the state’s residents aren’t yet supportive of marijuana reform, according to Sen. Tom Davis, a Republican.

“SC NORML was advocating a position that is not supported by the vast majority of Republicans and South Carolina residents,” Davis told The Post and Courier.

“And quite frankly, I’m not even sure if it’s supported by a majority of South Carolinians inclusive of both parties.”

Polling results on support for marijuana reform in the state have varied:

  • Winthrop University found 76% of South Carolinians support MMJ legalization and 56% support adult-use legalization in April 2023.
  • A poll by the Cannabis Alliance for South Carolina in 2021 found 54% of voters support MMJ legalization and that there was low support for adult-use legalization.

Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML, told the newspaper it’s common for chapters of the organizations to cease operations.

“The majority of NORML chapters consist entirely of volunteers, so it is not unusual that groups either dissolve or restructure over time,” Armentano said.

“In an ideal world, NORML would like to see an active chapter network representing consumers’ interests in all 50 states.

“But in reality, the grassroots nature of our group often makes us reliant on local advocates self-identifying themselves to us and then moving forward from there.”

In an email to MJBizDaily, NORML Development Director JM Pedini thanked Weldon for volunteering his time.

“We are so grateful to Scott for his tireless work advancing cannabis law reform in South Carolina,” Pedini said.

“We look forward to working with NORML members who are ready to lead the charge for cannabis freedom in the Palmetto State.”

The South Carolina Cannabis Coalition and the South Carolina Compassionate Care Alliance continue to advocate for marijuana reform in the state.