In 2016, Maddie Saglibene was considering moving to Las Vegas during the YES on 2 cannabis adult use campaign. She happened to meet Mikel Weisser, a representative from NORML, before the move. Maddie Saglibene mentioned that cannabis in Nevada was about to go recreational and asked if there was a NORML chapter in Las Vegas. “No,” Weisser responded, “but you should start one.” That suggestion turned out to be one of the best things Weisser could have done for the cannabis movement in Nevada.
Creating A Movement
“ ‘It’ll be fun!’ he told me,” Saglibene jokes. Soon after, while walking the floor of the CHAMPS Expo, she noticed a NORML logo at the Freedom Leaf booth. She approached and asked the person working the booth if a NORML chapter in Las Vegas had been created. He said no, but he was trying to start one. “Oh my God, we are going to be best friends,” she recalls. That person was Chris Thompson, and together the two worked night and day to launch the first Las Vegas chapter of NORML.
Outreach & Support
Tick Segerblom was a big help with getting Saglibene up and running in Las Vegas. “He was the first political figure that I was able to engage with on a human, personal level. He really inspired me,” says Saglibene, who then reached out to other community groups to not only educate and network with but to help support their mission as well. “Since we founded LV-NORML, we’ve made it a priority to work with other diverse groups in the community, gaining their trust and de-stigmatizing ourselves as cannabis users. Really, it’s a bi-partisan issue, so we try and work with everyone. It’s not a sustainable model to just focus on cannabis all the time.”
But activism is never easy. “We didn’t think we would be the only voices advocating for [consumer rights] because we know so many people that are passionate about this, but when push comes to shove, not a lot of people take the leap and take the next step. We pride ourselves on being the only group in the state that is actively going in front of the legislature and lobbying for and helping create these initiatives that impact the consumers,” says Maddie Saglibene. LV-NORML works to create a better cannabis community for the consumers, not just the corporations.
Activism Through Technology
In the past, contacting state representatives was either done by sending a letter or, for those with spare time, face-to-face. When a representative sees their constituents, looks them in the eyes and hears their stories, they are more affected than just words on paper. Saglibene has figured out a way to bring those people to the politicians without having them leave their homes. “We just started creating video testimonies from patients telling their stories on why cannabis reform is important to them. Then we send those to our representatives. Putting a name and a face to the story. Getting the patients in front of politicians without them having to leave their homes; it truly is impactful.”
Saglibene, continually feeding the souls of the community, is now serving it up by the slice. Pizza Stone’d, her food truck, is dishing fresh slices outside of dispensaries and events. So, will we see CBD on her pizzas anytime soon? “Once we can add CBD to food without getting shut down, we plan on being one of the first!”