Friday, Jan. 7, 2022, was the last day working as a marijuana lobbyist for Justin Strekal, one of the most efficient brawlers in the fight for cannabis reform.
Strekal served as political director of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, for five years. He oversaw the most critical times for cannabis reform, as most states that legalized marijuana in the United States, as well as national legalization movements in Canada, Malta, Uruguay, Mexico and more, all happened under his tenure.
When Strekal took his position at NORML, Donald Trump was freshly elected president, Jeff Session was on his way to dismantle whatever little progress had been accomplished under Barack Obama, Congress was held in a GOP chokehold, and the upcoming years seemed very gloomy for marijuana reform enthusiasts. Instead, in those years, California, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, New Mexico and, most recently, Connecticut, all legalized recreational marijuana, with many more states decriminalizing it and legalizing medical marijuana.
Mission Not Accomplished
However, as marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, NORML’s mission is not accomplished yet. The organization’s efforts led to never-before-seen reform proposals making it to the floor of Congress, with the MORE Act of 2020 becoming the first federal marijuana legalization bill to be approved by the House of Representatives, although it was ultimately killed by then-Senate Majority Leader Republican Senator Mitch McConnell.
“The work is not done, nor am I done with a role in the cannabis policy space,” says Justin Strekal. “In the coming weeks, I’ll be engaging with allies about a new political cannabis project that I am incubating.” He launched Useful Strategies and joined the digital consulting firm Unfiltered Media to continue exercising pressure and use his expertise in the cannabis reform space.