We are proud to announce the establishment of Kansas NORML. Although the political climate may prevent some people from active, open support of NORML, we invite you to support on whatever level is comfortable. Please photocopy materials and pass information along to friends and to the public.
Kansas NORML realizes that to make progress we must reach new audiences. Our Hemp display at the Lawrence "Earth Day" festivities was a success. Our display booth included a Bible printed on hemp paper, clothes made from 55% hemp, 70 pounds of hemp seed (sterile birdseed purchased at Lawrence Feed & Seed) and many free information handouts. One of our signs stated, "MORE PAPER ON LESS LAND WITH FEWER TOXIC CHEMICALS -- HEMP". Facts like this will enable more people to take a closer look at cannabis sativa. People who do not wish to take a stand on hemp-the-dope can feel that hemp-the-rope is a good thing.
Kansas NORML is now working for these goals:
1. Legalization of hemp for fuel, paper, clothing, food, etc.
2. Legalization of cannabis sativa for medical use and research
3. Decriminalization of smoking marijana
4. Development of a test for actual intoxication from marijuana as opposed to the current test for prior use (30 day exposure).
We hope that you will join us and support us in any way that you can believe in. We are particularly interested in getting and disseminating facts about hemp, its uses and its history. Our aim is to expose the War on Drugs as a war on civil liberties as well as to redeem and reclaim the many virtues of the unfairly banned and damned hemp plant. Let us hear from you.
AMONG THE products was a Bible that was about an inch thick and contained both the Old and New Testaments. Creamer said book was made of hemp paper that is much thinner and stronger than paper made from wood pulp. He said hemp is an environmentally safe alternative to wood-pulp paper because an acre of marijuana plants can produce much more paper than an acre of trees and doesn't take as long to grow. Creamer, who helped organize the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the national group's biggest push is to have cannabis legalized for medicinal use. "It's outrageous that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) has kept this product away from people for so long," he said. Creamer said the purpose of handing out sterilized seeds is to show that "hemp exists in this country even though some say it doesn't exist."
BESIDES legalizing marijuana in order to produce environmentally safe products, rally participants also discussed the need to legalize the plant for narcotic purposes. "I just don't see that marijuana is hurting anybody," said a Pittsburg State University student who attended the rally along with two other students. None of the students would identify themselves. The student said he read about the rally in High Times magazine, a publication that features information about marijuana and other drugs. "We just decided to drive down and check it out," he said. "We wanted to hear cries of reason and sanity." The student said he believes that decriminalizing marijuana would decrease the load on the justice system and ease prison overcrowding. "All they're doing is making criminals out of people," he said.
Out-of-state harvesters already being arrested this summer in Pot County
Marijuana thrives in northeast Kansas pastureland like sunflowers line dusty county roads. There is no law requiring that weed marijuana be killed, only that it not be cultivated or harvested. Even though it is a weed, it is often illegally harvested to be mixed with good-quality, cultivated marijuana in order to increase the drug traffickers' profit margin, according to law enforcement officials. Many rural county law enforcement authorities are overwhelmed by the magnitode of the problem, said Gerald Schmidt, investigator for the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Department.
Schmidt should know. His county, and several neighboring ones, have many visible, healthy patches of the weed. Eradication by spraying is attempted, but the spraying has barely affected the marijuana. "The bottom line is frustration, frustration, frustration. How do you stop it when it's everywhere?" he asked.
Marijuana has no natural enemies. Its toughest competitor is ragweed. It thrives in soil with a high nitrogen content, such as feedlot or cropland drain-off areas or along creek banks. Cattle, horses and wildlife won't eat the plants, which may grow as high as 15 feet. It is a first-class weed, according to Theodore M. Barkley, a botany professor at Kansas State University. "It's hugged the heels of mankind since the beginning of time. It is native to south central Asia, but it goes where mankind goes - similar to musk thistles." Barkley said. Barkley said there are three classes of marijuana: wild, weedy and cultivated. The cultivated is divided into two uses: drug or hemp, a cordage fiber used for rugs and tapestries. During the World War II era, the U.S. Department of Asriculture issued bulletins explaining how to grow marijuana for stem fiber, Barkley said,
"All we have in Kansas is weedy marijuana. It hasn't been legally declared a noxious weed, so landowners aren't required by law to eliminate it like they are required to do with the musk thistle." he said. "And if it weren't for the fact that some of its relatives are useful for illicit drugs, no attention would be given to it." But attention is given to it. Lots of attention, said Jim Malson, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. The KBI, the National Guard and area law enforcement officers work together to locate and eliminate marijuana, in addition to arresting those caught harvesting the weed.
"It's a sizeable problem, and legalizing marijuana is out of the question. It isn't a harmless thing. More often than not, it is a stepping stone to other drug use. And drugs are involved in a majority of crimes committed now," Matson said. Last year, authorities arrested a well-organized group of out-of-state pickers."They'd rented a trailer in Topeka, had a trash compactor and scales, the whole bit," Schmidt said, 'They'd go out into the area and for days and then bring the stuff back to the trailer. We caught them with 200 pounds. "A lot of these pickers are part of well-organized groups. Some of them get dumped off to pick, or just camp out." In Pottawatomie County, several out-of-state harvesters already have been arrested, and the season has just begun. The value of the weed marijuana varies, but generally starts around $200 a plant, according to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Cultivated marijuana plants are valued at $1,500 each. "The sad truth is they can come out here and pick for a weekend and make $20,000 or $30,000. That isn't a bad haul for one weekend," Malson said. "There seems to be no fear of the legal consequences." "I don't have the answer, but I think we need to combine education and enforcement. Taking everyone and putting them all in jail isn't the answer."
Malson cautioned people to contact authorities if they see suspicious activity. "Don't get involved and don't go into the field," he warned. "If it's a cultivated plot, it may be booby-trapped or the growers may have armed guards.
Chief backs lower drinking age
Sociologically speaking, city proposal makes sense, Olin says
Lawrence's chief of police says he agrees, from a sociological standpoint, with a city commissioner's proposal to seek permission to lower the drinking age in the city. Police Chief Ron Olin said that the way the current law stands, three-quarters of the Kansas University student population who drink do so in an environment where there is no supervision or control, such as a party. Olin said the lack of supervision -- even that afforded in a club or tavern by a bartender -- coupled with the continued availability of alcoholic beverages to under age drinkers encourages unhealthy drinking habits, such as overindulgence. "The overwhelming majority of KU students and other students prior to changing the law were not our law enforcement problems," he said.
LAWRENCE CITY Commissioner Bob Schumm, at a city commission goal-setting session in October, persuaded commissioners to agree to investigate a proposal to lower the drinking age for 3.2 percent beer back to 18. The proposal has been on the back-burner since the goal-setting session. Olin said statistics before 1985, when the state began raising the drinking age from 18 to 21, incidents of drunken driving were low for the 18- to 21-year-old age group. But with the drinking age at 21, Olin said police saw an increase in criminal activity, such as mass production of false identification cards. KU police Lt. John Mullens, however, said practicality and reality stand in the way of lowering the drinking age in Kansas. If the drinking age is lowered, the state no longer would be eligible for a portion of federal highway funds, which are used to build and repair roadways. "How many millions (of dollars) is the city of Lawrence and the state willing to give up?" he said. Mullens said that it wouldn't be feasible for the state to give' up those funds. "Without federal backing there's just too much at stake,"' he said. Plus, the bottom line is that the drinking age will not be lowered in Lawrence because municipal ordinances cannot supercede state law, Mullens said.
Olin would not comment about the practicality or feasibility of the proposal. But neither he nor Mullens said they would see a big change in enforcing a new drinking age. If the proposal gains momentum and eventually is adopted, Olin forecasts that the criteria for conducting bar checks would have to be changed, including. retraining officers to look for minors under 18 instead of 21. Mullens saia that lowering the drinking age is not going to alleviate concerns about minors in bars.
"I think there needs to be respect for the law," he said.