NORML Starts a New Chapter in San Diego

Ben G. Rowin sat down with Kimberly R. Simms to get to the bottom of what is going on with the NORML Chapter in San Diego.

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.

I graduated from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2008. Shortly after I passed the bar, I decided to start my own firm that focuses on the emerging area of cannabis law.  My firm focuses on collective formation, qualified patient representation, criminal defense, civil litigation and zoning and municipal law.

I am very active in the local cannabis community.  I joined Southern California NORML and was asked to serve on the board of directors early in 2010.  I enjoy being a part of Americans for Safe Access and the Trident Roundtable.  I also donate my time to the Legal Cannabis Institute by teaching a class on how to run a legal cannabis business.

Oh is that all…?  I’m only kidding that’s quite a bit for one person

Well, when you enjoy what you are doing it doesn’t always seem like work.  Plus, I really enjoy the people I work with.

We recently learned that Southern California NORML is under suspension.  As a board member, can you tell us how that happened?

For the past several months there have been a lot internal problems with the leadership of Southern California NORML.  The board wasn’t functioning properly and many of the members were very unhappy with their chapter.  Dozens of members wrote to National NORML to voice their concerns over various issues.  As a board member, I was made aware of many of these complaints as well.  It’s important to understand that as a board member, my fiduciary duties run to the organization – meaning my duty of loyalty is to the organization as a whole and the members which comprise that organization.  I had many conversations with National NORML regarding the ongoing problems occurring in Southern California NORML.

National NORML thoroughly investigated the situation and decided that the best solution was to suspend the chapter while these internal issues were being resolved.  Unfortunately, it became clear rather quickly that the problems could not be resolved.

Whoa, that seems a little extreme?

The problems ran deep and were very divisive to the cannabis community.   I fully support National NORML’s decision to suspend the chapter and allow us to start fresh.

What does this mean for Southern California NORML?

The suspension means that Southern California NORML will no longer be affiliated or recognized by National NORML.  Southern California NORML will need to go through the process of winding up as a business.

But have no fear – a new kind of NORML is emerging.  With National and California NORML’s assistance, I am working hard to build a new chapter.  There are several other advocates who are helping me along the way.  We have had two organizational meetings to date, picked a temporary board and started committees.  We even picked a name – San Diego County NORML.  We will begin the affiliation process immediately.  There is so much excitement and renewed energy for this new chapter and I cannot wait to see all the wonderful things we will accomplish.

How will this chapter be different from Southern California NORML

It’s a completely new chapter that we are building from the ground up.  Southern California NORML had three board members – the new chapter will have a board of seven, which will create stronger accountability and provide more leadership opportunities.  Elections will be held yearly instead of every three years.  The new chapter will also have functioning committees such as membership outreach, fundraising, events, and education.  These committees will be comprised of the members and will meet monthly.  We are excited to be a liaison with many different types of advocacy groups.  Basically, this chapter is all about the members and what they want out of the chapter.   We will also be more focused on our core mission of reforming marijuana laws and encouraging people to get out and vote Yes on Prop 19!

How can the NUG readers become involved?

This new chapter really is all about the members.  Each one of us has a different skill or talent that we can contribute to the movement.   You can become active by coming to our monthly meetings and joining one of the committees.  If you have an idea for a committee or event, then let us know!  There truly is room for everyone.  You can contact us at

What is the future of the marijuana movement?

It’s positive and upbeat!  We are moving towards legalization and more and more states are starting to decriminalize marijuana.  Most importantly, the face of marijuana is changing.  It’s the young, the old, professionals, soccer moms and even your neighbors.  Progress is a slow moving beast but we are certainly moving forward and San Diego County NORML is excited to be a part of the journey.

If you have any questions or would like more information about how to get involved with the new chapter please contact us at  We will have our next monthly meeting in early September, date and location TBD – so stay tuned!

bringing you that fire! stay tune for more posts.

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