City Fights Plans for Store Run by MJ Legalizers

City Fights Plans for Store Run by MJ Legalizers
Posted by FoM on December 27, 1999 at 14:39:44 PT
The Associated Press
Source: Cleveland Live
There was no post-holiday shopping rush Monday at a store set up by a group promoting the legalization of marijuana. The city has blocked its opening indefinitely. "It's not the image we are trying to project in the historic downtown district," Mayor Paul Jones said Monday. He has been trying to spruce up the city's 19th century storefronts. 
The city of 12,000 residents, known for its annual hot-air balloon festival, is the Portage County seat, east of Akron. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has set up shop next door to the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce but has been unable to obtain a required occupancy permit. The store plans to sell T-shirts, jewelry and clothing made from hemp. A fiber-producing crop related to marijuana, hemp does not produce a high, but growing it is generally illegal in the United States. NORML, which promotes medicinal uses of marijuana, said it was trying to work through city channels and blamed the permit problem on the politics of marijuana legalization. "We're trying to work within the system and do everything legal," group spokesman John Hartman said Monday. The group has a store in Lakewood, near Cleveland, and closed a Dayton store early in 1999 because of staffing problems. No drug-related paraphernalia would be sold at the Ravenna store, which has been ready to open for two months, Hartman said. Jones said the store must meet all regulatory requirements before opening. He said he would block the opening, if necessary, through zoning rules. Hartman said court action was a possibility. NORML's store passed a fire inspection, but the mayor has tabled the group's storefront sign proposal and the issue is pending before the city planning commission. Eleanor Ahrens, 45, of Shalersville, the shop's manager, pleaded no contest in 1996 to trafficking in marijuana. She began growing marijuana when her doctor recommended it as an alternative to prescriptions for epilepsy, an anxiety disorder and seizures. Ahrens mixed marijuana into tea and food to ease her symptoms and restore her appetite. She says she no longer does so, but hopes such use someday will be legal for people like herself and those with AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, glaucoma and other diseases. "Our motivation to have the marijuana was to make it better for her," Ted Ahrens, Eleanor's husband, told the Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier. The mayor said Ahrens' conviction was a factor in his thinking. "I can't understand why a group like this would want to come into a conservative small town and upset everyone," he said. Published: December 27, 1999 The Associated Press, 1999 Related Articles & Web Site:North Coast NORML Claims Mayor is Playing Politics - 12/11/99 Cannabis Shop Lacks Required Permits-12/01/99 News NORML Related Articles:
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on December 28, 1999
 at 12:08:56 PT
Related Article
US OH: Mayor: Maybe I am infringing on (NORML's) Constitutional Rights.URL: Newshawk: Richard Lake Pubdate: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 Source: Record-Courier (OH) Copyright: 1999 Record Publishing Company Contact: editor Feedback: Forum: Note: Headline by newshawk. This newspaper's news archive failed to carry either the headline or the author. Cited: North Coast NORML: Ravenna: Related: MAYOR: MAYBE I AM INFRINGING ON (NORML'S) CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. I DON'T CARE.... Ravenna Mayor Paul Jones admits he may be infringing upon the rights of free speech, but considers protecting his constituents from certain types of speech part of his job. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has set up shop on North Chestnut Street, a couple of stores down from the Ravenna Area Chamber of Commerce, but Jones is keeping the group's doors locked. "You can't sit in this chair and not see a red flag with this," Jones said. "The whole idea is not appropriate. It surely doesn't fit the image of the historical district in downtown Ravenna." The space was rented for six paid months on Sept. 27 to sell hempen goods _ the tough fiber used from the herb Cannabis sativa, which is also the source of marijuana. Products for sale include dresses, T-shirts, jewelry, NORML logo products and books. The fourth shop to open in Ohio, it specializes in educating the public about the responsible, beneficial and medicinal uses of cannabis. NORML spokesman John Hartman said Jones is not looking at the store's real purpose and is playing politics to keep the shop closed. "We don't sell or make reference to bongs, hookahs or pipes of any kind," Hartman said. "We educate and generate revenue for that educational process. We don't promote the use of marijuana _ it is currently illegal. That would defeat our whole purpose." Jones said he is merely protecting the people who put him in office. "The residents have concerns, I have responsibilities," he said. "I'm sorry. I'm not going to get excited about this group coming here. I've received calls from people in Cleveland and Kent who said they don't like my opinion. But I'm not responsible for them, so it really doesn't matter to me. Maybe I am infringing on (NORML's) constitutional rights. I don't care if they take me to court because I'm doing this for the safety of Ravenna." Jones gave the example of a child entering the shop and reading about NORML's views. Although there are other shops in Ravenna and in neighboring towns that sell smoking implements that could be used for marijuana, Jones said he was unaware of the matter. "The issue of kids is moot, because if you're not 16, you don't get in," Hartman said. "A person younger than 16 is not quite old enough to understand the politics of it, I feel." NORML passed their fire inspection, but the mayor has tabled Hartman's second sign proposal and attempts to obtain an occupancy permit. "When I went back to the Design Review Commission, the mayor wanted to debate what NORML is _ not the sign," Hartman said. "Now the mayor is telling us we have to go before the Planning Commission, but we aren't changing the structure. Unless I am not reading the ordinances correctly, there should be no reason to go to planning." Hartman added he thinks the mayor "wears too many hats." "Every department leads me to the same person _ the mayor," Hartman said. "I am very frustrated. He's even talking to my landlord." Eric Hummel, Hartman's landlord, refused to comment. Jones said he has asked Hartman to provide the social security numbers of NORML board members and anyone involved in the Ravenna store. As safety director, he is entitled to request background checks on potential retailers, he said. Eleanor Ahrens, 45, the shop's manager, pleaded no contest in 1996 to trafficking in marijuana. But there are no laws preventing convicts from working. A Shalersville resident since 1980, Ahrens said she began growing seven marijuana plants on her property when her doctor recommended it as an alternative to the prescriptions that left her financially destitute, riddled with side effects and eventually addicted. She has suffered from epilepsy since childhood and has developed a severe anxiety disorder that irritates it and sometimes sends her into seizures. Ahrens no longer mixes marijuana in her tea or food to ease her symptoms and bring back her appetite, but she hopes for a day when she and sufferers of AIDS, cancer, Muscular Dystrophy, glaucoma and other diseases can find legal medical relief in marijuana. "Our motivation to have the marijuana was to make it better for her," said Ted Ahrens, Eleanor's husband. "She has paid a higher price for this than she should have. That's why we're here. Sick people don't need these complications." What many do not know is that members of NORML want the laws changed to benefit society _ not hippies, Hartman said. "We don't promote the use or legalization of other drugs," Hartman said. "This country spends a lot of money making 700,000 arrests a year for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And it's not working. Cannabis should be made available to society for its benefits. Fiber hemp is a miracle worker. Farmers need a new cash crop in the U.S." Hartman said the fiber hemp crop can be grown all over the country on small plots of land without much use of insecticides, making it more environmentally friendly and cost efficient to grow than cotton, corn or soy. "We believe it should be reasonably taxed and priced to be used responsibly," he said. "We feel there should be restrictions, we just don't agree with the way they prosecute now. "People are going to have to learn to accept us," Hartman said. "We're not bad people." 
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Comment #3 posted by Chris Campbell on December 27, 1999
 at 21:32:16 PT:
MJ Legalizers?
Doesn't calling NORML "marijuana legalizers" imply that they have actually had some sort of success promoting their agenda? With Y2M approaching I don't see any sign of a more rational drug policy in the USA.
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on December 27, 1999
 at 16:25:38 PT
Makes Me Angry!
This is the first time I have ever been moved to support an organization. All organization do good but this is my home State and it really bothers me. We are supposed to be one of the best States about marijuana laws. We had the worst laws on the books. In the 70s for possession you could get a 20 to 40 year sentence. So when they changed the law they went after alcohol with a vengeance and let marijuana alone pretty much. I hope people wake up and realize this is down right stupid to chase an herb like they do! A good medicinal herb at that!
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on December 27, 1999
 at 16:10:06 PT
Because some things need shaking up, that's why.
No doubt many of those involved in law enforcement in the 1960's said the same thing about the Civil Rights movement. They wanted African-Americans to 'keep in their places', namely in the back of the political, social, and economic bus.It was only when it became too costly to ignore and oppress this minority that things changed. And we, now, are in the same boat. Imagine: an entire nation has declared war on a minority of its' population. Every person who has ever used cannabis is the 'enemy'. Such 'compassionate conservatives' like former nicotine addict William Bennet was in favor of beheading. Former police LAPD Chief and founder of DARE Darryl Gates favored curb-side summary exceutions, Nazi-style. Of you. Of your children. For cannabis usage.It is this kind of mindset which hides behind the relatively banal pronouncements of Hizzoner the Mayor of Ravenna. It is but the tip of a very dirty iceberg badly in need of melting. By turning up the political heat.
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