Hundreds Rally To Legalize Marijuana 

Hundreds Rally To Legalize Marijuana 
Posted by CN Staff on October 09, 2006 at 06:06:25 PT
By Nathan Leaf
Source: Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin -- As Wisconsin farmers tended to the soybean and corn harvest, hundreds of people gathered in Madison this weekend hoping that someday those same farmers will be able to legally add another cash crop to their yield.On Saturday and Sunday on State Street Mall, proponents of marijuana legalization gathered to stump for their favorite weed with political speeches, music and - at least in a few instances - pot smoking at the 36th annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.
Last year the focus was on supporting a bill that would have legalized medicinal marijuana in Wisconsin. But with the demise of that bill, this year's focus was on electing officials who do support legalization, said event organizer Gary Storck."Go out and ask the candidates where they stand and if they don't support medical marijuana or they refuse to say how they would vote on it, don't give them your vote," Storck said of this year's message at the festival. "There's so much fear out there. Seventy years of prohibition have made (marijuana) almost an expletive in some cases."Storck estimated crowds in the hundreds attended the event, which he said functions not only as a rally but also a social gathering of like minds. "It's also kind of a social thing and a reunion of the cannabis community of the Upper Midwest," he said.To Storck, marijuana's illegal status is un-American and unfairly punitive."We're good members of the community," he said. "We're otherwise law-abiding citizens who are taking a safer alternative to alcohol. We shouldn't be punished for that."The event ended with a march up State Street and rally at the steps of the Capitol Sunday afternoon.No police calls were made to the event Saturday or Sunday, and no arrests were made for marijuana use, said Madison Police Sgt. Dave McClurg."It's time to legalize it," said Ricardo Jimenez, a commercial artist from Trempealeau, about 20 miles northwest of La Crosse. Jimenez set up a booth at the event featuring smoking pipes, hemp clothing and a pot-leaf emblazoned flag proclaiming "Legalize It!" among other marijuana-branded items.Jimenez said the movement to legalize marijuana is making progress."People are going to do it and you're not going to stop them," he said. With large numbers of people jailed for marijuana use, prohibition has created a dangerous, black-market drug trade, Jimenez said. "If they decriminalize it and (the government) controls it, you don't need all this madness."Janny Mayo of Oshkosh comes to the festival every year and is unsure if marijuana will ever be legal. But she's hopeful."I do believe one day they will realize there is nothing wrong with it," she said Sunday afternoon from her stand selling Styrofoam pumpkins with pot-leaf cutouts. "There (are) more important things to worry about than people smoking pot. . . . It's just going to take enough people to push it."Mayo feels that the taxes generated by legalized marijuana could be a boon for the government. "I think it would help the deficit a great deal, the money they could make off of it," she said.Besides its political mission and status as a social event for marijuana supporters, the festival also shows marijuana use in a favorable light, Mayo said. "It's good because (the public) also sees that it's a peaceful thing," she said. "If this was a beer fest you'd have people raising hell, fighting and everything else." Source: Wisconsin State Journal (WI)Author: Nathan LeafPublished: October 9, 2006Copyright: 2006 Madison Newspapers, Inc.Contact: wsjopine madison.comWebsite: NORML -- Cannabis Archives
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