January 29, 1995, 2:00 p.m.
Kansas Day Hemp Rally
The Kansas State Capitol (south steps)
Hemp Buck '95 commemorates the potential relegalization of hemp in 1995. With Senator Bob Dole as Majority Leader in Congress, we declare that Bob Dole is one of the few who has the political power to discuss the hemp issue. Therefore, the process of relegalization can begin so that farmers may take advantage of what Mechanical Engineering called 'The Most Profitablc and Desirable Plant that Can Be Grown" (February, 1937) and what Popular Mechanics declared as "'the Billion Dollar Crop" (February, 1938), at the onset of prohibition.
Hemp Buck 95 is filled with humorous items, hemp facts, and information on how to contact Bob Dole and N.O.R.M.L. Come join us for Honk for Hemp! Saturday nights and Sunday at Noon in downtown Lawrence! Enjoy and learn from Hemp Buck '95.
Members of the KU and Lawrence chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws have been stamping the words "I grew hemp" on one, two and 100 dollar bills. The stamp is a bubble with an arrow pointing to the central figure's mouth. "It's a symbolic, futile gesture," said Mark Creamer, a member of Lawrence NORML "But if we add enough of them together, we might win." Creamer said NORML members had been stamping about 200 bills a month to protest laws against marijuana. They assert that marijuana is an industrial, recreational and medicinal product. "There's a war on drugs," Creamer said. "What we want to do is get marijuana pulled off the bad-guy list. We feel marijuana is less harmful than alcohol." Creamer said stamping the dollar bills was an easy way to get people to pay attention to marijuana issues. "If we had money, we would have TV ads, but we don't," he said. "So it's real cheap for us to pass dollar bills with the stamp on them." Creamer said the first U.S. president gave NORML the idea to advertise its affinity for marijuana. "There's a quote in George Washington's diary that says, 'Make the most of the hemp seed, sow it everywhere,'" Creamer said. "That's where the idea came from." But George and Martha Washington were not the only patriots to grow the noxious weed, Creamer said. NORML chapters also stamp two-dollar bills which picture Thomas Jefferson. One hundred- dollar bills, which picture Benjamin Franklin, also are stamped. Creamer said Ben Franklin made hemp paper for public sale, and Jefferson grew weed on his Virginia estate.
But bank employees are not happy about the effects of Ben Franklin confessing his now illegal crop selections on 100-dollar bills. Creamer said bank employees didtn't like it when 100-dollar bills were stamped because less of them were in circulation, and the bills were harder to destroy. Destroying money is illegal, but NORML members said the stamp did not render the currency useless. According to federal laws, cutting, defacing, disfiguring and mutilating money with the intent to make the bills un-exchangeable is illegal. But NORML members said they wanted the bills to circulate. Creamer said the bills with the stamp were still usable, but they were cash with a message. "Its sort of like a 'get used to it' kind of thing," he said. "If people start getting a dollar bill with a stamp on it once in a week, they can't ignore it."
Rep. John Edmonds, R-Great Bend, voted against the bill because he said it could open up the legal use of marijuana. Garner's proposal would prohibit the sale of any product that is 100 percent ephedrine, unless anyone 18 or older buys it from a pharmacist. He said the product is currently sold at convenience stores where children can easily purchase it. Fifteen states currently have laws limiting the sale of ephedrine, Garner said. Rep. Doug Mays, R-Topeka, said his two teen-age children told him that ephedrine was a problem among their peers. "We shouldn't be selling products like this," he said.
The bill also would create an official state law that would allow judges to require people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to install an interlock device on their car. In order to start the car, a driver would have to blow into the device. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol, the car won't start. Administrative procedures allow judges currently to require the device, but Rep. Doug Spangler, D-Kansas City, said he wanted to make it a state law so that it is used more often. There is a business that sells the device in his district, he said.
Since its founding in 1970 by Keith Stroup, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, NORML's members have advocated the use of hemp and marijuana for practical and recreational use. Today, the group operates almost 100 local and state chapters. KU and Lawrence have separate NORML chapters with about 12 members total. KU's chapter, which often sets up information booths at the Kansas Union, has only a president and a few members. Lawrence's group is more visible. Several members, including Creamer, periodically stand downtown waving "Honk for Hemp" and "Save Trees - Plant Hemp" signs, trying to solicit support from passing motorists. The group says its focus is not simply the quest to get high legally. "NORML fully supports a discouragement policy toward the abuse of all drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana," according to its policy statement. "NORML is strongly committed to the concept that growing up should be drug-free." Medical research has shown that marijuana reduces arthritis pain, menstrual cramps and migraines, slows the growth of glaucoma, blocks epileptic seizures, alleviates nausea caused by chemotherapy and helps stimulate the appetite of AIDS patients. Some argue that the drug should be legalized solely for these reasons.
"This is not a wrong thing," Creamer said. "There certainly shouldn't be drug abuse of any form, but smoking marijuana shouldn't be illegal. I really want people to realize the bad rap hemp has gotten. What we know about it stands on its own merit, and if science can show that hemp and wheat/straw paper is non-toxic and good for the environment, then it should be taught in the science classes at school."
Creamer has advocated the legalization of marijuana for 25 years and has worked to make his message heard. In 1989, he smoked a joint in the Lawrence Police Department and then served six months in jail for the incident. "I wanted to give the strongest non-violent message I could send," he said. Creamer has written to congressmen and the president, and he talks to local people, the school board and the City Commission. Creamer said he had heard that the 10-millionth marijuana arrest was made recently in the United States. "That's 10 million families disrupted -- for what?" he asked.
Sgt. John Lewis of the Lawrence Police Department said the law did not distinguish between drugs. A person caught with an ounce of marijuana, for example, is treated the same as a person arrested with an ounce of heroin or cocaine. However, that doesn't stop many KU students and Lawrence residents from getting high. They take a chance, and the majority gets away with buying and smoking pot.