Is NORML finally Normal?

| Thu Oct. 7, 2010 7:20 AM EDT

Five years ago, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws might as well have been a group of bible-burning terrorist skinheads. A politician who received a donation from NORML would probably return it. Sure, the occasional candidate for statewide office would seek the group's support, says NORML director Allen St. Pierre, "but not the ones who weren't bat shit crazy." 

Recently, however, it's starting to seem a lot more normal to be NORML. Two weeks ago, NORML received its first-ever request for an endorsement by a mainstream candidate for governor. Vermont Democrat Peter Shumlin wanted NORML's stamp of approval and $6,000 from its political coffers, St. Pierre says. And Shumlin is actually polling four points ahead of his Republican rival.

There must have been something in the Rice Krispies that week, because soon after, NORML got a landmark endorsement and fundraising request from a mainstream candidate for state attorney general, Democrat Stan Garnett. If elected, he'll be responsible for enforcing Colorado's marijuana laws.

"I wasn’t sure I was going to live long enough to see mainstream political candidates contact us" asking for support and money, St. Pierre says. "So I think that is a clear tea leaf that we have arrived at."

St. Pierre should probably thank another political oracle, California, where a ballot measure to legalize recreational pot, Proposition 19, is polling better than any of the state's political candidates. It might even help elect some of them. And that could be the only evidence Washington needs to classify yesterday's scourge as tomorrow's wonder drug.