Q&A: Michael Revercomb of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

By Columbus Alive
From the April 18, 2013 edition
  • Photo by Meghan Ralston

Michael Revercomb has been a marijuana legalization activist with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for five years and currently serves as vice president of the Central Ohio chapter. NORML and Revercomb believe marijuana should be legal for both medical and personal use and are working to change Ohio’s laws in a way similar to what Colorado and Washington accomplished last year.

While the Central Ohio NORML chapter still has a long way to go in accomplishing its goals, Revercomb feels the first move is to let people know they exist and what the cause is about. That’s why the local group will be holding a party this Saturday for people to learn about its cause and meet its members — while also having a little fun.

I actually went to the Statehouse for a gun rights thing, but met a patient, and that’s what got me started [with NOMRL]. I would do it either way — legalized or not — but I met a patient and started doing this for other people.

I’ve never seen anything else where sick people have to go out and do more work to feel better. Medical marijuana doesn’t help me. I don’t look at it from that perspective. I’m not going to go out and give myself a pre-existing condition in order to get a medical card. I think we should have a medical exemption and then pursue recreational marijuana.

I tell people to send out mail. Nobody uses mail anymore, but the people at the Statehouse love a letter. It’s nostalgic and has an impact. I’ve had representatives tell me that for every written letter they get, they believe another 250 people in their district feel that way.

As a chapter we support two different initiatives. The Ohio Alternative Treatment Amendment, which is run by patients and … is a regulatory system for medical marijuana. And the Ohio Rights Group’s Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment, which would amend the Ohio Bill of Rights with another section that would have to do with both patients’ rights and citizens’ rights to ingest what they want to.

During the next General Assembly they’ll have 12 different bills to make July 24 Wet Fart Tuesday or something stupid like Ohio Ice Cream Day. It’s a waste of taxpayer time and money that could’ve been utilized to help people not feel sick. Why are we wasting literally thousands of dollars to open up the Statehouse for a session like this?

There was a racial component back then, and there’s a racial component to it now. [Assistant Prohibition Commissioner in the Bureau of Prohibition] Harry Anslinger was in Congress [in the 1930s] talking about criminalizing marijuana and said it lowered white women’s inhibitions to the point where they cohort with Negro jazz singers. I got a Freedom of Information Act because I wasn’t sure — sounds like somebody’s feeding you a line — and I got two weeks of congressional testimony right before they criminalized marijuana. It’s awful some of the things they said.

The event is more of a party than anything else; we just want to get our name out there. We’d love to grow our membership or find some big funders, but more or less we just want to let people know we exist. The best way to do that is give people the opportunity to have a good time. We’ll have a DJ, a silent auction with a Steve Elliott-signed copy of “The Little Black Book of Marijuana,” and … some other great prizes.