Category Archives: Culture and Lifestyle

Slow Arc of Legalization

By Mikki Norris at

When my husband, Chris Conrad, and I became cannabis activists in 1988, it was the height of Reagan’s “Just Say No” and zero tolerance era. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 enacted mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, so the arrest and incarceration rates were starting to amp up, and people who enjoyed pot were heading back into the cannabis closet.

Chris was at an election victory party for insurance reform the night George H. W. Bush won office. Smoking a celebratory joint in the parking lot with his political allies, Chris announced that it was time to do something about the marijuana laws. He felt it unfair that responsible pot smokers were, literally, being kept out in the cold. They stood in the November night, vulnerable to arrest, while their colleagues were indoors freely drinking alcohol. Feeling inspired by the injustice of the situation, he asked everyone to join him in a quick campaign for marijuana legalization.

“Are you crazy?” they retorted. “You will lose all credibility and destroy your reputation. Marijuana will never be legal. It can’t be done.”

Chris took that as a personal challenge and bet that he could make and implement a successful plan. Within weeks, he formulated and launched the Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp (BACH) as a five-year strategy to legalize marijuana in North America. At the time, there were no hemp businesses except hemp birdseed and twine. BACH’s goal was to restore the perception of hemp for industrial use, allow medical marijuana, legalize personal adult-use and home grows, and regulate the commercial cannabis market.

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Has 420 lost its meaning?


By David Downs, at SFGATE, April 20, 2019

The term “420” has evolved from a code for “time to toke up” among Northern California high school students in the late 1970s, to a marijuana subcultural meme, to a global rallying cry for cannabis-user liberation.

We talked to 10 noted growers, activists, retailers, and experts about 420’s meaning to them on the eve of the first 4/20 with commercial legalization in California.

How will you observe 4/20?

Chris Conrad, East Bay activist: Smoking out at Earth Day with my lovely wife, Mikki Norris.”

Has 420 lost its meaning now that cannabis is legal?

Conrad: “For the longest time, nobody knew what the mysterious 420 stood for anyway … until High Times revealed its secret. Then, after Senate Bill 420 was enacted, the number became enshrined in the broader vernacular. So I don’t think it’s lost its significance at all.”

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