Pubdate: Wed, 09 May 2001
Source: Maneater, The
Copyright: 2001 The Maneater (U. Missouri)
Author: Renee Fullerton


  (U-WIRE) COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A steady drizzle didn't dampen the spirits 
of the people who gathered on the steps of the state Capitol for a 
rally on Saturday. More than 150 people met to show their support for 
industrial hemp and medicinal and recreational marijuana use. The 
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws sponsored the 
event. Students from the University of Missouri NORML chapter 
attended the rally to draw attention to their cause.

"If we want action, then we have to prove there is a constituency," 
MU NORML President Jeremy Hudson said. "Many politicians think it 
would hurt their political career if they openly show support for 

The rally featured several speakers, including Hudson, along with 
live music. Many said they believe the rain kept some people from 
attending the rally.

"The rally was a little bit disappointing," MU sophomore Marcy 
Spudich said. "I don't know if the rain kept people away or if people 
wouldn't have shown up anyway. The idea was to be there and be seen 
and heard, and we were."

MU students said they attended the rally for different reasons. 
Spudich said she attended the rally to show support for individual 

"I am concerned about the effects prohibition is having on society," 
Spudich said. "Individuals should have sovereignty over their own 

MU senior Amber Langston said she came to the rally because she 
supports industrializing hemp.

"I believe that a lot of the laws regarding the plant cannabis are 
wrong," Langston said. "The public has been misinformed by the 
government for many years."

The rally also aimed to make state lawmakers aware of NORML's 
position. A bill sponsored by Sen. Harry Wiggins, D-Kansas City, 
would allow a person who has suffered distress as a result of someone 
else's illegal drug use to seek compensation.

Hudson said the bill was unwarranted and extreme.

"This bill is absolute lunacy from a justice perspective," he said. 
"It is a totally new dimension for a law."

The Missouri House and Senate are also considering bills to deny 
workers' unemployment and workers' compensation for employees who 
test positive for drugs in urine tests.

Sen. John Loudon, R-St. Louis, is sponsoring a bill that would allow 
employers to hold benefits of workers terminated for testing positive 
for drugs. The employers would have to post a drug-free workplace 
policy beforehand to withhold benefits.

"It will add a whole lot more validity to drug-free workplace 
policy," Loudon said. "Employers shouldn't have to pay if their 
employees broke the rules."

Hudson said the use of urine tests to deny benefits should be unconstitutional.

"Americans need to be woken up to the fact that their own bodies are 
being used to testify against them," Hudson. "Even urine should be 
able to take the fifth."

Some members of the Missouri General Assembly are in favor of 
exploring the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes and 
the reinstitution of industrial hemp.

"I introduced legislation several years ago to encourage research on 
medicinal marijuana," said Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, D-Columbia, 
whose constituency includes MU. "It is an issue we definitely need to 
look into. Hemp in the past has been a very profitable crop for 
Missouri. It is an agricultural product that the state should look 
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