NORML hosts 4/20 rally in support of pot legalization

Rally planners emphasized the importance of industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana.

Students and drug activists voiced their support for marijuana legalization Tuesday afternoon at the annual 4/20 rally at Northrop Plaza, which the National Organization for the

Reform of Marijuana Laws organized.

“The whole prohibition of marijuana is based in racism and fear. During the ’30s it was like the red scare, the pot scare,” said Jason Holstein, a junior and acting president of the University NORML chapter.

Organizers said between 50 and 100 onlookers listened to speeches and local music during the noon to 1:30 p.m. event.

Students such as senior Katie Roth were on hand to get more information and show their support.

“I don’t know much about it, but I know the laws are unfair and too strict,” Roth said.

NORML volunteers passed out compact discs and literature to anyone interested in the effects of marijuana, socially or physiologically.

University sophomore and NORML member Ryan Larson spent four to six hours per night for three weeks researching information for the event.

“It’s incredibly hard to find solid research because the (Drug Enforcement Agency) doesn’t allow it in the U.S.,” Larson said. “We had to dig.”

Minnesota NORML President Chris Wright said the organization aims to educate people to not fear marijuana.

“They say that marijuana leads to other drugs, that it’s a gateway drug. There is no evidence to support that,” Wright said.

Larson said it is physically impossible to overdose from marijuana.

“You would have to eat 1,500 pounds of marijuana in 15 minutes to overdose,” he said.

Planners also said they want to emphasize the viability of industrial hemp as a resource and the need for medicinal marijuana.

Despite some students’ dedication to the illegal drug, no clouds of brown-grey smoke wafted from the plaza Tuesday. What haze there was came from hand-rolled cigarettes and threatening rain clouds.

“As much as we would like to see our rallies turn into smoke-fests,” Holstein said, “we’re trying to change laws, not break them.”