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Useful Leaders In The Public Eye


Justin on The Daily Show

BOWL PAC founder, Justin Strekal, and author of Bending the Arc: My Journey From Prison to Politics, Keeda J. Haynes, join host Roy Wood Jr. to discuss the complicated road to federal cannabis legalization.

Watch the video from The Daily Show here


Speaking out at
Cleveland City Hall

Currently, if an employee stole $2,900 from their company, they’d be charged with a crime. When a company steals $2,900 from their workers, they are not.

This is why Justin and Dana both organize with the Guardians for Fair Work campaign to change policy in Cleveland and have the city take action against wage theft violators. 

You can watch the testimony at City Hall here

Cleveland(.)com: Kudos to Dale Miller and Cuyahoga County Council as they prepare to crack down on wage theft

I applaud the Cuyahoga County Council ahead of their anticipated vote May 23 on Councilmember Dale Miller’s anti-wage-theft legislation. Following the successful passage of similar legislation in Cleveland last December, our elected county officials are taking action to protect workers and ensure that all residents receive their full pay, moves critical to building a stronger and more prosperous region.
Op-Ed 5/22/2023

Plain Press: City Council passes Wage Theft and Payroll Fraud Prevention Ordinance

“There are over 250,000 documented cases of wage theft every year in Ohio. An average victim loses 24% of their take-home, which is over $2,900 in Cleveland if they stay on the job for a full year,” said Strekal. “I want to thank the City Council for their vote of support and to let you know that we will be back next year to talk about how we expand upon protection for Cleveland workers.”

NPR Ideastream: Dear Struggling in Ohio: 'You're not alone.' Love, the sewer district

It was the only message Justin Strekal, who follows the sewer district on X, said he heard in December that included those who are struggling.
"I think a lot of other government agencies should be taking notes about how to reach their constituents where they are and meet them where they are in a non-patronizing, earnest way," he said.  

Forbes: Why President Biden Needs Weed In 2024

For example, during the 2020 Presidential Election in Arizona, 60% of residents approved a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana. Biden won the state by a hair—49.4% to Trump’s 49%. “My understanding is that weed dragged Biden over the finish line,” says Justin Strekal, a marijuana legalization advocate who founded the cannabis-focused fundraising organization BOWL PAC.

POLITICO: Weed wins galvanize Capitol Hill’s anti-cannabis club

“This highlights the growing fracture within the Republican caucus,” Strekal said, “on those who want to double down on criminalization versus those who want to accept the legitimacy of states legalizing marijuana.”

Essence Magazine: The Feds Consider Making Marijuana Less Regulated

As cannabis advocate Justin Strekal noted, “Rescheduling cannabis from 1 to 3 does not end criminalization, it just rebrands it. People will still be subject to criminal penalties for mere possession, regardless of their legal status in a state-level medical program.”

Vox News: The most important part of Biden’s surprise marijuana announcement

BOWL PAC founder Justin Strekal, a longtime cannabis lobbyist in Washington, DC, and the former political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, says it’s a step in the right direction, no matter how small: “Could Biden have gone further?” he told Vox. “Yes. But now citizens around the country can leverage that example to build pressure on state and local officials to follow in his footsteps, as some governors already have.”

Marijuana Moment: NORML’s Federal Marijuana Lobbyist Departs After Five Years Advancing Reform On Capitol Hill

Paradoxically, Strekal personally thinks that professional lobbying should be abolished. But in his years as the federal lobbyist for NORML, he’s demonstrated how having a voice directly whispering—and, occasionally, shouting—in the ears of policymakers and their staff can help affect real change.

Yahoo News: Sha'Carri Richardson suspension underscores frustration with Biden's marijuana policy

“While President Biden has issued an Executive Order to advance racial equity through every aspect of government, this administration continues to turn a blind eye to the criminalization of marijuana, which is the most commonly used justification for law enforcement to stop American citizens. As the data clearly shows, this tool of oppression is most often wielded against young men of color,” Strekal said.

NBC News: House passes historic bill to decriminalize cannabis

If cannabis is descheduled through the MORE Act, large banks and institutions would be more likely to enter the marijuana industry once a legal framework is established, said Justin Strekal, political director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.
"It is bad statecraft when you have states completely defying the federal government," he said. "It engenders disrespect for the law."

The Hill: ​To honor veterans, Congress must reform federal marijuana laws

Congressional intransigence on this issue by the Republican party defies common sense. Veterans acknowledge using marijuana at rates far higher than the general population and nearly half of them describe their use as self-medicating, according data published earlier this year in the journal “Addictive Behaviors.” Further, according to nationwide survey data compiled by The American Legion, 39 percent of respondents affirm that they “know a veteran” who is using the plant medicinally.

CBS News: Should employers keep testing workers for pot?

"With over 20 percent of the U.S. population now living in jurisdictions where marijuana is legal for adults and the right to consume it in the privacy of their homes, they still are at risk of being denied or losing their employment as a result of a positive drug test -- even in instances where the use took place on weekends or after-hours," NORML Political Director Justin Strekal wrote in an email.

Vice News: Big Pharma Wants a Monopoly On One of Weed's Key Medicinal Compounds

"As GW and their lobbyists go door-to-door selling lawmakers on the wonders of their proprietary product," Strekal tells me, "it gives those legislators the political out to say 'we did something,' when they really didn't."

Rolling Stone Magazine: Bernie Sanders’ Marijuana Legalization Plan Goes Furthest of Any Candidate

The second, and perhaps more important, unique aspect of Sanders’ proposal is the “anti-monopoly component,” says Strekal, which the candidate says will prevent the rapidly growing cannabis industry from becoming like “Big Tobacco.” With cannabis entrepreneurs facing sky-high licensing application fees in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as regulators putting up increasingly insurmountable hurdles, “we’re seeing accelerated consolidation of the marketplace,” says Strekal, adding that the same large cannabis companies are often receiving most of the licenses in each state. 

Houston Chronicle: Occupy Wall Street movement shows muscle

"We're moving fast, without a hierarchical structure and lots of gears turning," said Justin Strekal, a college student and political organizer who traveled from Cleveland to New York to help. "... Egos are clashing, but this is participatory democracy in a little park."
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