Pubdate: Thu, 04 Dec 2003
Source: Daily Illini, The (IL Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Illini Media Co
Author: Leah George-Baskin


Marijuana activist and author Ed Rosenthal speaks to a classroom full of 
students on Wednesday night at Gregory Hall. Rosenthal flew in from 
California to discuss the war on drugs and the medicinal use of marijuana. 
There will be a panel discussion on medicinal marijuana on Thursday night 
from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Illini Union Ballroom.

Several registered student organizations attempted to enlighten University 
students on their constitutional rights when dealing with police at a forum 
Wednesday night.

The purpose of the "Flex Your Rights" workshop was to inform students of 
their rights and power in connection to any sort of police searches and 
seizures along with issues of marijuana, said Danielle Schumacher, senior 
in LAS and president of local chapters of the National Organization for the 
Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The informal event was an interactive discussion with the audience that 
allowed them to ask questions that could be applied to any police 
encounter, but generally focused on issues pertaining to marijuana.

One of the main speakers at the workshop was Ed Rosenthal. Rosenthal was 
tried for marijuana cultivation and conspiracy, stemming from a business he 
ran growing marijuana to be sold for medical uses under a California city 
ordinance. He was convicted in February 2003 and sentenced in June 2003. 
Since being convicted he has been an activist for the use of marijuana for 
medicinal purposes, writing books and magazine advice columns about the 

"Something about smoking marijuana gets up people's dander and makes them 
respond in a particular way," Rosenthal said. "(Smoking) is a rite. I think 
society hates that whole ritual, so it's not so much being high that people 
resent, it's the ritual."

The workshop was presented in connection with a forum taking place on 
Thursday at the Union at 7 p.m. titled, "On the Front Lines of the Drug 
War: Medical Marijuana Activists."

Stephanie Johnson, freshman in LAS and publicity chair for the event said 
the forum will feature speeches by marijuana activists from California and 
Illinois who will be discussing the benefits of and controversy surrounding 
use for medicinal purpose and the political process surrounding drug law 

Rosenthal will be speaking at the forum along with members from Americans 
for Safe Access and the state's NORML chapter.

Johnson said they will be discussing medical studies that show that 
marijuana helps ease the pain of many diseases, such as glaucoma, and does 
have biological benefits.

Schumacher said she believes marijuana has medicinal purposes and should be 

"The laws in Illinois concerning (marijuana) have a lot of gray areas," she 
said. "We don't see marijuana as being nearly as harmful as tobacco, 
alcohol, heroine or other drugs both legal and illegal. It's not always as 
bad as people think."

Schumacher said the forum will be both a comparative case study looking at 
the situations in California and Illinois and a presentation showing ways 
to help people with debilitating diseases.

Johnson said she encourages anyone who is at least remotely interested in 
the issue to come out to the event.
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman