From our media partners Sun Sentinel.
In nearly four decades as a Fort Lauderdale attorney, Norm Kent has fought for free speech and gay rights, been a radio talk show host, publisher and political commentator.
Now the old-school liberal and inveterate pot smoker has attained a new pinnacle of progressivism: leadership of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
"Norm ascends to the leadership out of passionate belief in the righteousness of legalizing marijuana," said Howard Finkelstein, Broward public defender and longtime Kent friend. "This is somebody who's a true believer. He has committed decades of his life to this."
Kent, 62, was elected chairman of the board of the Washington, D.C.-based organization of which he has been a member since 1971, a year after it started. NORML, which lobbies Congress and state legislatures on behalf of marijuana legalization, has 135 chapters and 550 lawyers to represent those charged in pot offenses.
"I cherish and relish the opportunity to serve and act in the capacity as president of an organization that's been dear to my heart for 40 years," Kent said. "I'm hoping I can become the national spokesman and voice of marijuana policy reform in America."
Kent has practiced law in Fort Lauderdale since 1976, handling First Amendment, civil rights, media law and gay advocacy cases. "He is probably the best national expert on the medical necessity defense for marijuana," Finkelstein said.
Kent, who has a doctor's permission to smoke pot as a result of his successful battle against lymphoma, also authored "The Pot Warriors Manifesto."
"I've always tried to show that adults can responsibly use marijuana," he said. "You move social change inch by inch and year by year and hope that eventually the just cause emerges."