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NORML Controversy in Wisconsin Over Chapter Director

Alan Robinson (image via Isthmus)

Wisconsin NORML executive director Alan Robinson has been stripped of NORML's Outstanding Cannabis Advocate Award after the national organization received a sexual-harassment complaint about him. An internal investigation is ongoing. 

At last week's virtual conference on October 22, things were going well until it was time to announce NORML's Activist Awards. Four awards were given, but the prestigious Outstanding Cannabis Advocate Award, usually reserved for a chapter leader, was omitted.

The day before, Robinson had posted news of the award at Facebook:

Robinson added: "Having my efforts recognized humbles me and fills me with gratitude at the same time. Being rejuvenated with that sort of energy at this stage of the game is a blessing, but the game isn’t over and we haven’t won."

However, a Wisconsin NORML member tells CelebStoner that Robinson "has a very checkered past, has several OUIs, fleeng an officer, disorderly conduct, lawsuits, etc. He's appeared to be drunk on livestreams. The latest accusations are sexual assault from an other chapter board member."

Wisconsin NORML currently operates without a board, so Robinson remains executive director, despite the complaint. "They all left in disgust before the latest round of complaints," the source says. "NORML was aware he was operating without a board."

Robinson, who grow up in Madison, has had several OWIs, according to a 2019 article in Isthmus:

"Robinson’s last OWI landed him in the Dane County Jail for six months, followed by six months of treatment. He knew he couldn’t start drinking again, so he started using marijuana more frequently. 'I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember,' he says. 'I needed something. It wasn’t pills. It certainly wasn’t alcohol. Cannabis makes me feel okay.'"

NORML executive director Erik Alteri tells CelebStoner:

"NORML chapters are independent non-profits with their own governing board of directors who are authorized to operate under the NORML name given they follow a specific set of rules, guidelines and regulations. That includes abiding by NORML's Ethics Agreement and Code of Conduct. The national office takes any complaint or allegation against a chapter or affiliate with the utmost seriousness and has a detailed process in place for receiving, evaluating and acting on any received complaints. Any complaint received first goes through a chapter's board of directors (unless the allegation isn't specifically made that implicates the board itself). They then have a set time to act on the complaint in a way that is satisfactory to addressing its seriousness and evaluating it in a fair and thorough process and then acting on it. If the chapter fails to meet those guidelines in a satisfactory manner in the time outlined, national NORML reserves the right to act which includes revoking the chapter's charter to operate as an affiliate of the organization.

"For the sake of the privacy of all individuals involved in any complaint we receive, and to ensure that all individuals in any current or future situations feel comfortable coming forward with any sensitive issues they may have had to face, NORML's national office doesn't comment on any complaints that are in process or under review."

NORML's Code of Conduct states: "Members shall not engage in sexual harassment or other conduct that can be considered harassing, coercive or disruptive, or which creates a hostile or offensive environment."

Robinson appeared on a NORML conference "Allyship in Activism" panel on October 23. He could not be reached for a comment. CelebStoner also reached out to the complainant to no avail.

In July, NORML stripped MassCann of its chapter designation after a board member was accused of organizing an anti-Black Lives Matter event.

 

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.