Pubdate: [Sun, 01 Sep 1996]
Source: Des Moines Register (IA)
Author: Carl E. Olsen

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your balanced June 12 editorial on the May 18 Hemp Fest at
Credit Island. When I received the flyer for the Hemp Fest last spring,
depicting a person rolling a marijuana cigarette with the words "Don't
forget to bring a bud," my reaction was to make plans to be somewhere else
that day.

Although I'm sympathetic to the cause of the Quad Cities Hemp Coalition, I
don't count civil disobedience among the tools I employ to promote that
cause. At least, not yet. Civil disobedience is not something that happens
by accident, it should be planned carefully.

For example, the actor, Woody Harrelson, who plays the bartender on the
TV series "Cheers," was recently arrested for planting four hemp seeds in
Kentucky. Harrelson called the sheriff to come and watch, assuring his
arrest on misdemeanor possession charges. Harrelson is protesting hemp

The difference between Harrelson and the hemp festers, is that
Harrelson has the money to back up his act of civil disobedience with
powerful attorneys and long, drawn-out legal proceedings, something that
will be very expensive for the Kentucky courts, and the taxpayers who must
continue to foot the bill for the war on hemp plants.

Without a doubt, hemp should be re-legalized. It was once the most
important agricultural crop in the United States. Some of the early colonies
actually required farmers to grow hemp as a condition of land ownership. It
was listed as a medicine in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia until 1942. It was
outlawed because it was a competitor to newly developed synthetic industrial
fibers and pharmaceutical drugs, products which have a devastating impact on
our health and environment.

Although hemp was outlawed for all practical purposes by the Marijuana
Tax Act of 1937 because of the prohibitively high tax placed upon it, the
U.S. government waived the tax and begged farmers to grow it during World
War II, as our supplies were cut off from the Pacific Rim by the Japanese.
Hemp was then being used for such important applications as cordage for
ships, among other things.

I sincerely appreciated your valuable suggestions to the hemp festers.
Working within the system is much more effective and still leaves room for
public demonstrations, as the Quad Cities Hemp Coalition seems to have
recently learned. Their public protest scheduled for this Saturday, July 27,
at the Scott County Court House, asks people to obey the law and to postpone
the celebration until after hemp prohibition has ended.

Iowa NORML(National Organization for Reformation of Marijuna Law)
distributes information to the media (approximately 20 Iowa newspapers, as
well as several television and radio stations) via its weekly media updates.
We work closely with Iowans for Medical marijuana to provide information to
the state legislature, and medical marijuana bills have been introduced
every year since 1993. We also publish a quarterly newsletter and maintain a
site on the World Wide Web.

We invite anyone who is interested in hemp relegalization, for
industrial or medical use, to contact us via the U.S. postal service at P.O.
Box 4091, Des Moines, IA 50333, via phone or fax at (515) 262-6957, via
e-mail by clicking here, or via the World Wide Web by clicking here.

Carl E. Olsen,
Director Iowa NORML