There are few people who can say that they have dedicated the majority of their time on earth to legalizing cannabis and advocating for sensible drug policy reform, and Dan Viets is one of them. Dan is the Secretary of the national NORML Board and President of the NORML Foundation, as well as Chair of the Board for New Approach Missouri, the organization that just successfully legalized medical cannabis in the Show-Me-State.
Additionally, Dan Viets is an attorney in private practice in Columbia, Missouri, concentrating on the defense of marijuana cases. He has served for many years as the Missouri State Coordinator for NORML. He is a former president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, former chair of the board of the Mid-Missouri ACLU, former president of the University of Missouri student body and former chair of the City of Columbia Human Rights Commission.
There really are no words to describe the integrity, dedication, and level of experience that this man has given to the cannabis movement. I could go on for days about how impactful and long standing his efforts are, but I thought a few people who have worked with him more closely than myself may be able to explain better.
Viets is a Missouri native and has put lots of his advocacy efforts into the state as the years have gone by. Jamie Kacz is the Executive Director of NORML, Kansas City and the Board Secretary for New Approach Missouri. Kacz explained that, “Dan has been an instrumental part of Missouri’s cannabis reform efforts for decades and has lead the efforts with integrity and determination. He is always willing to take time to help all the MO chapters of NORML and is constantly fighting for civil rights for Missourians.”
John Payne, Executive Director for the New Approach Missouri campaign, has worked with Viets since the organization started their efforts several years ago. Payne said, "Dan built the cannabis law reform movement in Missouri for the past 40 years, and he played a leading role in drafting and passing Amendment 2 as chair of the New Approach Missouri board of directors. I doubt anyone in the state was happier than he was on November 6 when those decades of hard work paid off in the form of a resounding electoral victory."
Madeline Martinez, another one of my absolute favorite long time activists, has known Viets for over a decade and they have trudged alongside each other in cannabis policy reform. She serves on the National NORML board of directors, of which Viets is Secretary. Martinez noted that Viets is not only the most amazing and thorough secretary possible, but that, “Dan is an amazing activist and incredibly dedicated...just when you don’t think he has any more time to do things, he takes on another project, all of which keep the bigger picture of cannabis legalization at the core. He is such an asset both for NORML and the cannabis movement and truly an overall a wonderful person!”
While Viets is far too modest about his steadfast dedication and activism for cannabis policy reform, he did have a few remarks when I interviewed him…
Leah Maurer (LM):When did you start your cannabis activism (formally)?
Dan Viets (DV):1972..I attended the first "People's Pot Conference", the first NORML Conference, in D.C.
LM:How does Amendment 2's win rank against your other long-time cannabis policy achievements, and how does it feel to have been a part of legalizing cannabis in your home state?
DV:It's number 1. It feels tremendous!
LM:What does Amendment 2's victory mean for the overall, federal cannabis law reform movement?
DV:It's another brick in the wall. It's a loud and clear message to state and federal government that Missouri voters want cannabis law reform. Amendment 2 got more votes than any other issue or candidate on the Nov 6 ballot!
LM:What is next for you?
DV:Implementation. We want to be sure that the state of MO puts patients first in thisprocess and allows for real competition to keep prices low and bring out the best in the industry.
I am so excited to see how this all rolls out in Missouri, and also to see what this dedicated activist is up to next.