Pubdate: Wed, 09 May 2001
Source: Lantern, The (OH)
Copyright: 2001 The Lantern
Author: Joshua Vensel


(U-WIRE) COLUMBUS, Ohio -- About 150 people gathered at the corner of 
15th Avenue and High Street at 4:20 p.m. Saturday to march for the 
decriminalization of misdemeanor amounts of marijuana.

The event, organized locally by Columbus native Kenny Schweickart, 
was part of the Global March for Cannabis Liberation, dubbed "The 
Million Marijuana March."

Schweickart said the local ballot drive is to decriminalize 
misdemeanor amounts of marijuana to protect college students from 
losing their financial aid for school.

Schweickart said, "We feel that the drug provision of the Higher 
Education Act is an atrocity on intellectual freedom. "There's no 
good reason why students should be losing their financial aid if 
they're caught with as little as a crumb of marijuana. Can you 
imagine what our society would be like if Baby Boomers were denied 
aid for school over a little bit of grass?"

"Our effort will put on the ballot an issue that will make Columbus 
tolerant to small amounts of marijuana."

People driving along High Street honked at the marchers, who were 
accompanied by signs and a 7-foot-high cardboard marijuana leaf.

Marchers carried a variety of pro-marijuana signs with slogans such 
as, "Marijuana Heals Glaucoma," "Pot Pride," and "Marijuana = 
Medicine." The marchers also chanted the phrases, "It's only a 
plant," and "We have the truth."

City council candidate Greg Richey (Green Party) spoke at the rally 
in favor of marijuana legalization and encouraged the marchers to 
vote for he and fellow Green Party candidate John McGovern.

Richey said that he and McGovern are both in support of 
decriminalizing marijuana in Columbus.

"To me it's about priorities. Are we going to spend our time really 
working hard to convict sexual assaults, or are we going to focus on 
clogging up the courts and the jails with minor drug offenses?"

Richey said that there are about 20 sexual assaults reported each day 
in Columbus.

The group is soliciting signatures for a petition to allow Columbus 
voters to decide whether marijuana should be decriminalized or not.

Schweickart said, "Voter participation is key. We're counting on the 
student body to register to vote and vote in November for this issue. 
It is imperative that young people vote, because in city elections 
less than 29 percent of members of The Ohio State University vote."

Both University Police and the Columbus Division of Police were 
within the vicinity of the rally before the march started, but the 
rally took place without incident.

The march went along High Street and ended at the gallery hop in the 
Short North.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe