Mikel became Arizona NORML’s State Director in 2015. He was passionate in his reform advocacy endeavors, stating that “his main devotion is, and has been, advancing the work of Arizona NORML.” He was especially proud of the group’s successful efforts to reform the state’s medical cannabis access laws and was working on the state initiative to legalize marijuana at the time of his passing.
Born and raised in rural south Texas near the Rio Grande border, Mikel worked a variety of labor jobs during his youth alongside illegal immigrants, and saw the way these hardworking laborers were often exploited.
In his life, Mikel lived in poverty and experienced homelessness. At the age of 30, he encountered the equalizing power of education when he returned to college to acquire an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Springfield followed by an M.Ed. from Northern Arizona University. Mikel taught middle school in Western Arizona before becoming a full-time activist in 2012.
He also ran for Congress on three occasions.
His colleagues remember him fondly:
NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal said: “I had the good fortune of knowing him through his work as the Director of Arizona NORML but our connection was stronger than that. We both believed a better world was possible and his dedication and determination were inspirational to me. The people of Arizona are better off because of him and the ripples of hope he projected over his years of activism will continue to move throughout the world, carried by the people he organized with.”
NORML Legal Committee member Tom Dean said: “There is a massive and palpable void left in Mikel’s absence that is felt across the entire movement, from consumers to dispensary owners and everyone in between. There will never be another like Mikel Weisser. Yet while we are all grieving, at the same time people from Arizona and all over the country have come together to express their commitment to carrying forward Mikel’s legacy of effective marijuana policy reform, starting with getting passed the Smart and Safe marijuana legalization initiative this year in Arizona, an objective to which Mikel selflessly devoted most of his waking hours during the last few years of his life.
Nevada NORML Executive Director Madisen Saglibene said “As longtime Executive Director of Arizona NORML, he was so well spoken yet had such a unique demeanor that you couldn’t help but to feel his larger than life personality. Mikel was the driving force behind starting Las Vegas NORML in 2016, and never let go of my hand. I have no questions about Mikel’s purpose in all of our lives, but I will truly miss experiencing it with him. Heaven will now have legal marijuana and pink duct tape.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said, “I was incredibly sad to hear of the passing of my friend, a great activist, political maverick and wonderful human being Mikel Weisser. As the Executive Director of Arizona Norml and through his other work and activism he contributed to the betterment of the lives of those not just in his state, but across the country. I’ll miss our lively discussions at the NORML conferences and the positivity and passion he brought to his work. Rest in power, Mikel.”
This post will continue to be updated.