Speakers tout merits of medical marijuana

Sunday, October 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:08 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Supporters of Propositions 1 and 2 have reached the home stretch.

As Election Day approaches, several groups behind the upcoming marijuana initiatives sponsored two events this weekend to promote the cause of medicinal marijuana and decriminalization, as well as other issues pertinent to the movement.

On Friday, Howard Wooldridge of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, federal medical marijuana patient Irvin Rosenfeld and NORML president Keith Stroup each gave their views on marijuana.

The event was sponsored by the MU Law Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in collaboration with the MU chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The second event, Saturday’s fourth annual Missouri NORML and Cannabis Coalition State Conference featured speeches by Wooldridge, Rosenfeld and Stroup as well as several panels about medical marijuana; a live discussion of hemp bio-diesel fuel and a demonstration showing how to create it; a dialogue about Propositions 1 and 2; and a session on marijuana law, personal rights and community activism.

Proposition 1 calls for the dismissal of charges against seriously ill people who obtain and use marijuana on a doctor’s recommendation.

Proposition 2 looks to reduce the penalties of marijuana possession of less than 35 grams from a misdemeanor to a maximum fine of $250. Defendants would be tried in municipal court instead of state court and would not serve jail time.

Wooldridge, a former Michigan police officer for 15 years, said he once spent six months riding his horse from Georgia to Oregon “like a Paul Revere, trying to spread the alarm about the harm caused by the war on drugs.”

“We in law enforcement are a mosquito on the butt of an elephant; we’ve never made a difference (in the Drug War), and we never will,” he said. “We’ve arrested millions of drug dealers, and there’s always someone to take their place.”

Rosenfeld spoke from a patient’s perspective. He suffers from a disease that causes bone tumors to grow and develop at any time. He smokes up to 12 marijuana cigarettes a day as prescribed by the federal government to treat pain, muscle spasms, tears, hemorrhaging and joint inflammation.

“The problem now is medicine is being decided by politics,” he said. “The government does not want to know how well it (marijuana) works; they’re scared of the results.”

Stroup spoke from a lawyer’s perspective. He founded NORML in 1970 and is in his second stint as the head of the organization.

He said marijuana smokers must “come out of the closet” for marijuana laws to be changed.

“We are productive citizens who raise families and contribute to society,” he said. “We need to contact representatives and let them know that this is how we feel; we’re gradually winning the war and with the help of tens of millions of smokers, we will win.”

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