The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws was founded in 1970. Mike Meacham is the executive director of the Northern Nevada NORML. For more information, visit item/northern-nevada-norml.

Tell me about NORML.

NORML is an organization that works to provide information to the public about marijuana and its current laws. We also work to reform laws to make them more citizen friendly. NORML stands for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, and that’s what we work to we do. … There’s all kinds of propaganda about how marijuana makes you go crazy. As it is now, it’s classified as a class-one felony, which puts it up there with cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. … It doesn’t makes sense to be classified with those drugs. You can’t overdose on it. You can’t really hurt yourself on it. The worst side effects are hunger and laziness, things that don’t really affect anybody but the user. You don’t see anybody wanting to get in a fight on marijuana. You don’t see people having ill will just because they’ve smoked. .. It should’ve been legal years and years ago. Actually, it was. Right now, what’s going on is exactly the same as what happened with alcohol. Alcohol went through a period of prohibition, and was still used widely in the underground. Same thing is happening now. People have been using marijuana in the underground for years and years, and it’s starting to become mainstream because all the propaganda is becoming dissolved.

What’s your reaction to the decriminalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington?

Well, they should’ve done it 20 years ago. It should have never been illegal in the first place. But I’m very happy that it’s been accepted in Colorado and Washington, and the way that it is in California. I think that Nevada as a whole could benefit from it, by legalizing it and taxing it. We could do a lot with it. With the right information and the right control, it could lead us to being a much healthier nation.

Washington and Colorado are supposedly going to get a big boost in tourism. Do you think Nevada has missed the boat?

I wouldn’t say that we missed the boat, but we should … talk about making the West Coast the place to be. … I think if we legalized it outright, we’d still have plenty of tourism in Vegas and in Reno of people close by [in California] who weren’t able to smoke or weren’t willing to lie and say that they needed it [for medical reasons]. I think we should still take the opportunity to legalize it.

How does Nevada’s medical marijuana work now? And what are the problems with it?

Right now, as of 2001, medical marijuana in Nevada is something that you have to go through the health department for. … There’s been a lot of trouble with people finding doctors to discuss their illnesses. And there’s no way, once you obtain your medical card, for you to purchase or obtain it legally. Right now, Nevada is a grow-your-own state, and it’s caused huge problems for people trying to safely obtain their medicine.