Mikki Norris has been a trailblazing activist for drug policy reform since 1989, when she formed the American Hemp Council with her husband, Chris Conrad. Over the years, the “Power Couple of Pot” 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. They network and strategize with activists and businesspeople on how to advance the reform movement. In 1993, the couple moved to Amsterdam to curate and design exhibits for the Hash Marijuana Hemp Museum, which they updated in 2000. As community action co-coordinators for Californians for Medical Rights, they helped organize petitioners to qualify the medical marijuana initiative (Prop. 215) for the 1996 California ballot.
As director of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, Norris advocates for consumers to come out of the closet to end the stigma and stand up for their equal rights. From 1995 to 2002, she 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 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 political consulting group Next Generation (backed by the Marijuana Policy Project), which ran victorious initiative campaigns in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and Santa Cruz, CA, and passed city ordinances in West Hollywood and San Francisco to make adult marijuana offenses law enforcement’s lowest priority.
She was managing editor of the West Coast Leaf newspaper (www.westcoastleaf.com) from 2008 to 2013. She and Chris published the news quarterly to bring the latest updates on cannabis politics, science and culture and to foster the climate of tolerance and understanding of the cannabis community, build the movement and end marijuana prohibition. The Leaf was distributed for free at hundreds of dispensaries around California and a few out-of-state locations. After they discontinued printing, they launched an online news service at www.theleafonline.com.
In 2008, Mikki was a delegate to Beyond 2008 NGO Forum in Vancouver, BC Canada, to provide input on the United Nations drug policy. The next year, she and Chris attended the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs high level meeting in Vienna, where respect for “human rights” was added to the policy recommendations. Over the years, she has spoken at events around the US, as well as in South America, Mexico, Australia and in Europe.
Mikki was instrumental in providing public education, outreach, and consulting services to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act campaign, Prop. 64, the voter initiative that legalized cannabis in California in 2016. She is an advocacy instructor with Oaksterdam University.
Mikki was one of 12 women activists recognized for their work at the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum of Barcelona’s 2019 exhibit, We Are Mary Jane. Recently, she and Chris have been leading cannabis spirituality/sacramental use ceremonies.
Currently, Mikki is applying her activism and organizing skills to her local community. She serves on the El Sobrante Municipal Advisory Council, heading up the Cleanup and Beautification subcommittee. She has organized monthly community cleanups and educational events for National Cleanup Day, MLK Day and Earth Day.
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 special education teacher, Norris has a BA degree in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Master’s Degree in Education and multiple subjects and communication-handicapped teaching credentials from the California State University, Los Angeles.