Pubdate: Wed, 11 Apr 2012
Source: Daily Free Press (Boston U, MA Edu)
Copyright: 2012 Back Bay Publishing, Inc.
Author: Alex Falco


Rick Doblin, founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for 
Psychedelics Studies, said the government and the National Institute 
on Drug Abuse has a "monopoly on marijuana research" at Suffolk 
University NORML's 2012 Cannabis Curriculum and Hemposium on Tuesday.

"The only place in the country that has NIDA approval to grow 
marijuana for research is a government-run facility at the University 
of Mississippi," he said. "We have been in court for six years trying 
to get clearance."

About 65 students and speakers gathered at Suffolk University for a 
forum that encouraged students to do research and projects on 
cannabis and its prohibition, in addition to providing a place for 
students to showcase their results.

"It's about getting people together," said John Dvorak, a 
hempologist. "I'm preaching to the preachers."

Guest speakers from institutions such as Boston University and Tufts 
University spoke at the Hemposium, in addition to student activists, 
political advocates and researchers.

The speakers discussed the medical usage of marijuana, the political 
and economic benefits of legalization of marijuana and the methods of 
activism and securing research.

"Cannabis has been used by people for thousands of years for 
spiritual and shamanistic rituals," said BU College of Arts and 
Sciences junior KC Mackey, president of BU's Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Speakers said they were anxious about the government's refusal to 
give research access to private institutions and distribute marijuana 
that can be researched.

"Cannabis can help a multitude of medical problems, cancer, multiple 
sclerosis -- almost anything you can think of," said Tufts junior 
Matthew Kennedy while he presented his paper on Cannabis at the forum.

Many advocates made pitches to advocate the legalization of medical 
and non-medical marijuana.

"When California passed its law in [1995 through 1996], for example, 
it was very, very wide open," said Erik Wunderlich, a medical 
marijuana policy advocate. "It wasn't particularly well regulated and 
it caused a lot of problems because of the vagaries of the law. The 
lack of coherence has really caused a lot of problems both for the 
patients, the providers, the dispensaries and law enforcement."

There have been problems with previous medical marijuana laws in 
Montana, Washington and California that have caused issues for 
movements in other states, Wunderlich said.

"There will [be a] public ballot initiative for legalization of 
medical marijuana in both the Somerville and Cambridge districts," 
said Alex Arsenault, of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition.

Students attending the symposium said it increased their desire to 
initiate activism within their community to try and further the cause 
of marijuana reform.

"I think it definitely gives me better insight on how I can 
participate . . . [and] how I can be active," said Lesley University 
junior Karl Daruwala. "Before . . . it was just hearing things on the 
news or seeing things on the Internet."

The Hemposium also discussed alternative uses for hemp, such as an 
alternative to milk, biofuels, concrete and shingles.

"It opened up my eyes to a lot of things I didn't know about hemp and 
marijuana . . . It's amazing how much you can do with this plant, and 
it is only a plant, and the fact that it's illegal is ridiculous," 
said Suffolk University freshman Sophie Purton.

The Hemposium's purpose was to set out and educate people about 
marijuana and the benefits it can have on society, Dvorak said.

"It's just the perception by society that makes it a stigma," said 
Tufts sophomore Allison Wilens, "and to have a stigma influences how 
it affects you."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom