Jack Porcari is the Executive Director of WNY NORML, he is also a medical cannabis patient. I first met Jack after attending the Western New York NORML meeting in January. NORML stands for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. This was my first time in attendance, and I was there in search of collaborators for this magazine. Jack greeted me with a smile, shook my hand, and uttered something along the lines of “welcome aboard.”
I was surprised at the turnout of the meeting. There were about twenty people to start with more trickling in as the meeting went on. Seating quickly became crowded at the table inside the Bootleg Kombucha store on Niagara St.
I learned about the goals of the organization, its advocacy efforts, and future plans for the club. The atmosphere was easy-going and communicative. Everyone was invited to speak freely about ideas, recommendations, and plans for the future of cannabis in WNY.
I felt completely accepted at my first meeting. While discussions sometimes wandered off-topic, the focus was quickly redirected by Jack to the upcoming lobbying efforts in Albany. I spoke with Jack after the meeting and learned that he was a medical cannabis patient. I am thankful he was willing to share his story with me.
Tell me a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jack Porcari, I’m 19 years old, and I’m originally from Amherst, New York. I study political science at the University at Buffalo and I’m the Executive Director of WNY NORML.
When did you get involved with NORML?
I’ve been involved for a couple of years, but I became the Executive Director in June of 2018. Being Executive Director definitely added a lot more responsibilities, but I’m getting used to it and it’s a very exciting time to be a cannabis activist!
I understand you use medical cannabis do you mind sharing a little bit about that with us?
I’ve used medical cannabis for about a year and a half. I use medical cannabis to help with my epilepsy. I have seizures that occur circumstantially and I’ve been on a lot of different medications for it. All the medications I take have a lot of really negative side effects that are annoying and can negatively affect the way I feel. I’ve found that medical cannabis helps alleviate some of those side effects, reduces my pill burden, and just gives me a general calmness that no other medication has been able to.
What are your goals as an activist and for WNY NORML as an organization?
My vision is to live in a world where cannabis use isn’t judged with sweeping generalizations and unfair labels. I don’t think people should be ashamed if they use cannabis.
We live in a world where alcohol use is revered. Everyone is encouraged to go grab a beer or go out for a drink with their boss and coworkers, but you can be denied a job because you use cannabis. I think we should have more freedom than that, so my ultimate goal is to impact laws.
I’m shooting for an atmosphere of acceptance and transparency here in Buffalo. Whether I accomplish my goals by changing peoples’ minds with my medical story or through my activism with NORML, I’m determined to do it.
How can someone get involved with WNY NORML?
We hold monthly meetings and additional events. We usually announce these via email and on our social media pages. You can find us on facebook, twitter, Instagram, everything. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!