Mikki Norris has been an activist for drug policy reform since 1989 when she formed the American Hemp Council and Family Council on Drug Awareness with her husband, Chris Conrad. Over the years, they have traveled extensively in various parts of the world to educate the public on the many uses of hemp, medical marijuana, and adult and spiritual use, and to network and strategize with activists and business people on how to advance the cannabis reform movement. They have created many educational materials and handouts that have helped shape how people talk about cannabis and the Drug War.
In 1993, the couple moved to Amsterdam to design exhibits for and curate the Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum, which they updated in 2000. As community action co-coordinator along for Californians for Medical Rights, she helped organize petitioners to qualify the medical marijuana initiative (Prop. 215) for the 1996 California ballot, with Chris.
Mikki is director of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, which advocates for cannabis consumers to come out of the closet to end the stigma and stand up for their equal rights (cannabisconsumers.org). Since 1995, she has worked to put a human face on the injustice of the Drug War with her traveling photo exhibit project, Human Rights and the Drug War (hr95.org) and her compelling book, Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War (1998, 2000). In 2006, she was a consultant on the California Cities Campaign, working with the Next Generation, political consulting group, (with backing from the Marijuana Policy Project), which successfully ran three initiative campaigns in Santa Barbara (66%), Santa Monica (65%), and Santa Cruz (64%), and two city ordinances in West Hollywood and San Francisco. They all make adult, marijuana offenses law enforcement’s lowest priority.
Norris was Managing Editor of the publication, the West Coast Leaf (www.westcoastleaf.com) from 2008 to 2013. She and her husband, Chris Conrad, were publishers of this quarterly newspaper to bring the latest news about cannabis politics, science, and culture and to foster the climate of tolerance and understanding of the cannabis community in order to build the movement to end marijuana prohibition. While they have discontinued printing, they have recently launched an online version along with a news service at www.theleafonline.com .
In 2008, Norris was a delegate to Beyond 2008 NGO Forum in Vancouver, BC, where NGO’s met to provide input to the United Nations on drug policy. The following year, she and Conrad attended the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, high level meeting, in Vienna, where respect for “human rights” was added to the policy recommendations. They have done various speaking tours across the US, as well as in Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile (2014), and Australia (2015), Spain (2017) and Amsterdam (Cannabis College, several years).
Norris was instrumental in providing public education, outreach, and consulting services to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act campaign, Prop. 64, the California initiative which legalized cannabis in California with 57% of the vote in 2016.
She and her husband, Chris Conrad, won the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the field of Citizen Action from the Lindesmith Center/ Drug Policy Foundation in 2001, and the Outstanding Citizen Activism Award at the 2004 national NORML conference. She was presented with the Pauline Sabin Award “in honor and recognition of the crucial need for and importance of women leadership in ending marijuana prohibition” at the 2006 National NORML conference. Norris and Conrad won the National Cannabis Activist award at the 2014 Seattle Hempfest. They were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Emerald Cup, in Santa Rosa, CA. In 2017, she received an award from Oaksterdam University for her dedication to the cause.
A former teacher, Norris has a BA degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Master’s Degree in Special Education and multiple subjects and communication-handicapped teaching credentials from the California State University, Los Angeles. She also taught English as a Second Language.