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Columbia Missourian

Activists to host event encouraging marijuana legislation reform in Missouri

By Emily Adams
November 2, 2012 | 5:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The MU chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana will host an event Saturday to encourage votes for Missouri's marijuana legislation reform.

The conference will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Saturday in MU's Allen Auditorium.

Defense attorney Dan Viets, a spokesman for the organization's MU chapter, said the Saturday event will include a discussion about the current marijuana reform occurring across the nation and the organization's tentative plans to push for reform in Missouri's  2014 or 2016 election. Viets said marijuana reform typically fairs better in presidential elections because more youth and progressives are likely to vote.

"We need to make ourselves an effective statewide force in order to accomplish anything nationally," Viets said.

Viets said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, is perhaps the most important figure for marijuana reform and will speak at the event this weekend.

Other speakers at the event include Doug Fine, a hemp expert and author of "Too High to Fail," former Winfield police chief Betty Taylor and Huffington Post columnist and former Reason Magazine writer Radley Balko.

In 2011, the MU chapter worked in conjunction with the national organization on an initiative to abolish existing laws prohibiting medical marijuana use and to legalize marijuana use for individuals who are 21 and older. However, the activists were only able to get half the number of signatures necessary to pass the initiative.

However, a number of states will place marijuana law reform on the ballot this year, including Colorado, Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington, which spurred the organization to make another attempt to raise awareness and support for the issue in Missouri.

Supervising editor is Emilie Stigliani.