"Sometimes we get the great All-American gesture," said Thomas Trower, KU NORML member and Lawrence resident. "But it's usually 95 percent positive to 5 percent negative."
Nicole Lightburn, KU NORML member and Mission Viejo, Calif., sophomore, said that through these demonstrations and other activities, such as benefit concerts and literature distributions, KU NORML hoped to achieve its main goal -- educating people about the benefits of marijuana. "There are over 20,000 potential uses for marijuana," she said. "But marijuana has a negative image. There's alot of propaganda covering up a great plant." Since its formation three years ago, Lightburn said, KU NORML has promoted the environmental and medical contributions that marijuana could make. For example, she said, one acre of marijuana would produce the same amount of paper that four acres of trees produce. Marijuana paper could also be made for half the cost of regular paper. Medically, Lightburn said, marijuana can relieve pain. Marijuana also can alleviate the nausea that can prevent AIDS ahd cancer patients from eating, which only weakens them further. KU NORML's end goal is the full legalization of marijuana, Lightburn said. To promote legalization, KU NORML is signing and circulating petitions that support the Voter Initiative Bill, which would allow voters to vote directly on legislation without going through politicians. KU NORML also supports the Kansas Cannabis Crime Prevention Act, which would fully legalize marijuana and grant amnesty to those currently imprisoned under marijuana drug laws. Lightburn stressed that KU NORML wanted marijuana legalized for the products it could produce and not the entertainment it could provide.
"KU NORML is not a smoking club," she said. "Our focus is on education. However, it should be a matter of personal choice. You should be able to smoke if you want to." Some of the members do smoke, but they want to point out that there have been no reported deaths because of marijuana use. "If we're going to have a war on drugs, let's at least make it consistent and fair," Trower said. "Hundreds of thousands of people die yearly because of alcohol and tobacco." Lightburn said the only negative side effects of smoking marijuana were the legal penalties.
The next KU NORML meeting will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Regionalist Room in the Kansas Union.
Not just for smoking Hemp can be used for:
- cloth: more durable than arty manmade cloth
- fuel: cotlverted into biomass, can be used as fuel
- food: high in amino acids and protein, the seeds can be made into porridge
- paints and varnishes: produced from the seeds' oils
- protectlngthe top soil: with verydeep roots, it prevents soil erosion
- paper can be durable; also it is the most common paperused in bibles
- canvas: used as art canvases by RembrandtandVert Gogh
- medicine: relbes menstrual cramps, nausea and headaches.
Source: Nicole LYghtburn
Thomas Trower, Lawrence resident, participates in a "Hemp Rally" at the Lawrence Court House. Members of KU NORML attended the rally yesterday in support of the legalization of marijuana
To prove his point about the environmental advantages of the marijuana plant, Conrad held up a five-foot long marijuana plant stalk and a foot-long bunch of roots. The roots, he said, can go as deep as seven feet and are long enough to prevent soil erosion. The fibers outside the stalk can yield three times more fiber per acre than cotton, he said. And unlike nylon, hemp fiber production does not require fossil fuels. The marijuana plant can even produce its own oil, Conrad said. "Yield per acre isnít that great, but if youíre in a pinch, you can do it," he said. Conrad told the audience that in addition to its environmental benefits, marijuana made life a better experience. "It intensifies existence," he said. "Youíll be eating chocolate cake and say, 'Hey, I can taste the chocolate and the butter and the frosting all at the same time.'" Marijuana even has a revolutionary effect, Conrad said, because it scatters linear thinking and causes users to question why they should spend their lives working for someone else and not enjoying a beautiful day. After hearing that, one woman was moved to whisper to her friend, "Letís go smoke!" Will Bruchmann, Barrington junior, said the talk was educational. "It was a nice counter-≠view of what we seem to be inundated with."
For years Musikka tried various treatments for glaucoma, which causes hardening of the eyeball and loss of vision. "I had bad reactions to all the medication,"said Musikka, who spoke Friday during the Hemp Rally on the University of Kansas campus. "Finally a doctor told me if I didn't smoke it I would go blind." Musikka said she had reservations about the unconventional and illegal treatment at first. The first four months of treatment she put the plant in brownies. She said she now smokes four to six home-grown or government-provided joints a day. On Aug. 15,1988, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., court said she could legally use the drug for treatment. "The judge said I was insane not to protect the little sight I had." she said. "I had already lost one eye to their stupidity."
Dr. Michael Stiles, director of the glaucoma clinic at KU medical center, said many other traditional forms of treatment would be tested before marijuana use would even be considered. Stiles said marijuana had been tested both orally and in eye drops. "Studies have shown that a significant decrease in pressure doesn't last for more than an hour or two," he said. "The side effects are not worth the gain." Musikka said she did experience side effets such as sleepiness when she first began to smoke. Stiles said other effects of marijuana use included harm to the central nervous system and reproductive organs and that it could cause birth detects. Stiles said eye-drop use had effects of their own. "The drop forms are so irritating and cause so much redness that the patients dont want to take it," he said.
Inspired by her improvement, Mustkka now campaigns for legalization of marijuana. "There are 10 million seriously ill patients that we have pushed into a dangerous legal market," she said. "Incarceration is not the answer." "In polls where medical use is involved I have seen 90 percent or more approval. What other issue do 90 percent of Americans agree on? Musikka plans to campaign far legalization in Washington, DC, on Nov. 15, which is National Medical Marijuana Day.
Musikka, who has traveled with CAN for five years, is one of eight people in the United States who can legally smoke marijuana because of an illness. Diagnosed with glaucoma in 1975, Musikka said she lost nearly all of the sight in her right eye to brutal conventional treatments. In 1988 she was granted the right to use marijuana legally. Her sight has not deteriorated since, she said. Musikka said her marijuana is supplied by the federal government. It is grown in Mexico and rolled by a tobacco company. Clad in jeans made of 50 percent cannabis, a 100 percent cannabis hat and a T-shirt advocating the legalization of marijuana, Musikka spoke about marijuana's medicinal benefits. She said marijuana had more than 400 components that helped with various illnesses, including alleviating pressure on the optical nerve for glaucoma. "In the United States there are 10 million seriously ill patients who everyday have to go into a dangerous and illegal market," she said.
Throughout the day, CAN and NORML members spoke about the benefits and uses of cannabis through a loud speaker. They displayed products made from cannabis and distributed information about the plant. "People have been very curious," said Nicole Lightburn, KU NORML president. "We have been taught propaganda. If that's all you know, then of course you're going to think marijuana is bad." CAN's tour of the United States will culminate in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 15 at a demonstration for Medical Marijuana Day.
David Almquist, Lawrence NORML member, said he worked with KU NORML to bring CAN to campus so "students could have a first-hand look at the uses for cannabis." "We want to educate the unenlightened about the overall aspects of hemp," Almquist said. Almquist said NORML wanted hemp legalized "to eliminate the need for trees for paper and eliminate the need for fossil fuels." "But NORML will be around until hemp is legalized for all of its uses," Almquist said. "I normally don't get drawn into things like this," said Kara Wittman, Topeka sophomore, as she signed up for NORML membership. "This is one of my biggest political interests. Right now our courts are clogged by people arrested for the petty crime of possession of a plant," she said. Ed Cote, Lawrence sophomore, said he was a little bit skeptical of the activists. "But if you can't have free speech on campus, where can you," Cote said.