CRC holds Cannabis Colloquium

By Staff

Rebecca Feldman/Collegian

Advocates for marijuana have been fighting the system for many years now.

Yesterday in the Student Union ballroom, the Cannabis Reform Coalition held an event to encourage marijuana activists to keep fighting and to educate the community about the marijuana culture.

The event, put on by the CRC for the first time, featured speakers from national organizations as well as presentations concerning marijuana issues about hemp, medical marijuana, the Mexican drug war, myth-busting and recreational use.

Erik Wunderlich from Mass Patients spoke about medicinal uses and benefits of the illegal plant.

Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and formerly a New Jersey undercover police officer involved in the war on drugs, spoke about his conversion from fighting in the war against marijuana to advocating for it.

Richard Cusick from High Times magazine was scheduled to speak as well, but his bus broke down on the way and was not able to attend, according to CRC Public Relations Officer Will Snyder.

Snyder said the CRC was disappointed Cusick was not able to attend but said they were excited about the possibility of collaborating with him in the future.

Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), spoke about what he saw as the importance of initiative and communication between the “enthusiasts” – those in grassroots movements – and the people with money – powerful figures with influence who he said often have positions in the government.

Allen also stressed that people who want to see marijuana legalized should take action. He said if 1 percent of enthusiasts out there put in more effort, like contacting legislatures, they could yield results.

Although he encouraged more participation among advocates, he was optimistic about legalization in the future.

“This generation is going to be the one to push through,” he said.

According to Allen, currently 50 percent of people in the country are for legalization. He predicted a jump to 60 percent by 2021. He said that young people who love marijuana now will see legalization in their late 20s and 30s and will be on the edge of the generation to pull through.

The last speaker was a medical marijuana patient named Evan who delivered an emotionally-charged speech about his experience with cannabis and how it helped him get through recovery after radiation and chemotherapy for a cerebral tumor.

Evan said his symptoms included nausea, anxiety, lack of appetite, inability to sleep, and extreme bouts of depression. He was prescribed Marinol, a synthetic cannabinoid which helped him regain weight, relax and ease his depression.

“Marijuana did a huge thing for me,” he said.

President of CRC Alex Delegas said he was satisfied with the event, but wished Cusick from High Times was able to present and that the overall attendance had been greater.

He said the main messages of the event were for educating the campus and community on issues regarding marijuana. Delegas added that the CRC wants to make this event an annual thing.

Reed Silverstein, a sophomore from Dallas pursuing a bacherlor’s degree with an individual concentration and the web master for CRC expressed his beliefs for legalizing marijuana.

“An unjust law is no law at all,” he said, adding that he believes laws against marijuana to be unjust because humans have the right to pursue happiness. He also noted how he thought smoking weed doesn’t hurt anyone else, so it should be legal for individuals to partake in it.

However, not every UMass student agrees with the CRC’s stance. David Pritchard, a graduate student from Pennsylvania, said that while decriminalization makes sense, legalization does not.

He said legalization of marijuana may “be a potential place where people could be economically exploited from other countries.”

Shannon Young, a junior legal studies major from Rhode Island, said legalization seems pointless. She said she has never tried the plant and added that she has never seen any rational explanation to smoke it. She also pointed out due to her legal studies major, she can’t see the motivation behind participating in something illegal.

Nancy Pierce can be reached at [email protected]