NORML makes push for marijuana legalization

By Ariel Castro

Assistant News Editor

The elimination of marijuana laws is a topic that has faced a lot of opposition in recent years. Now, there is a registered student group on campus that is pushing for that cause.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is a group that supports the legalization of marijuana for responsible adults. A local chapter has been started at the University this year.

Grace Poll, a second-year Integrated Language Arts student, was recently elected to lead the organization for the next school year. “NORML is a great organization,” Poll said. “People are not educated at all about marijuana and we will be working for change.”

Poll feels very strongly about the deregulation of marijuana laws. She believes that the punishment for marijuana use doesn’t fit the crime.

“I think it is unfair that I could go to jail for doing something that is harmless,” she said. “I think people should read the literature about marijuana and listen to NORML with an open mind. Know the facts.”

Other members of the organization share Poll’s opinion. “I see nothing but advantages to the recreational use of marijuana by adults,” said freshman Mary Cavano. “The main focus of the group is to spread awareness.”

Poll sees some resistance to her organization’s cause, but believes it can overcome those obstacles. She believes that the hardest ones to overcome are stereotypes that people carry about marijuana users.

She also claims that ignorance is a big reason why people have been so resistant to the organization’s message.

“When it comes to politics, it’s easy for people to say, ‘Oh, you’re just a pothead,'” she said. “You have to remain calm when you get responses like that. We can’t escape the stereotypes. They’re everywhere.”

Last November, Issue One was placed on the voting ballot in Bowling Green and was defeated. The purpose of the issue was to relax the penalties for minor marijuana offenses.

“I did a lot of publicity for Issue One last year,” Poll said. “When it finally got on the ballot, no one came out to vote. That’s something we need to change.”

NORML, which is headquartered in Washington, DC, has five principles of responsible cannabis use. They believe that it should be used by adults only, and that users should refrain from driving while intoxicated. Also, they should use the drug in a safe setting, resist abuse, and respect the rights of others.

Poll believes that she would be an example of a responsible adult. She tutors a student at Bowling Green High School, plays ultimate Frisbee and intramural soccer, and does a lot of volunteer work. She also holds steady employment at a local pizza shop.

“I am going to rely a lot on the other leaders of NORML,” Poll said. “This organization can be so much bigger, but it’s so controversial and people don’t want their parents to know that they are involved.”

Poll takes special interest in what she calls “the culture” of marijuana. She has traveled across the country and likes to visit headshops that sell handcrafted glass pipes. Some of the best shops that she has been to are in her hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Poll plans to help get a jump-start on the organization’s goals over the summer. She wants to put together literature to distribute on campus, host information tables at the student union and plan volunteer events for members to help the community.

“I think when people think of NORML, they think of potheads,” she said. “We don’t just sit around and get stoned all the time. You have to be responsible about it.” By volunteering on Earth Day and other environmental awareness days, she believes that the organization can make a positive impact on the community.

During the school year, NORML meetings are held every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in room 111 of the Business Administration building. Poll can be reached at [email protected]