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Hemp Fest Deals Facts About Cannabis


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This past Saturday, students milled around the first floor of Eclectic, tasting hemp milk, signing petitions, and making hemp bracelets–all part of NORML's Industrial Hemp Fest.

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is the Wesleyan chapter of the national organization of the same name that seeks to legalize marijuana. Through this event, NORML members hoped to enlighten students to industrial uses of hemp and differentiate it from marijuana.

Toni Latimer '09 and John Chisholm '09 founded the University's branch of NORML about a year ago. Since then, they have been working to inform the campus community of cannabis' non-psychoactive purposes and to highlight the importance of legalizing marijuana.

"The purpose of Hemp Fest is to spread the word that marijuana is more than a drug, to cannabis critics and enthusiasts alike," Latimer said.

Hannah Masius '10, who attended the event, outlined what she said was the commonly held, but misguided, belief about hemp.

"People automatically associate it with weed, although it has no THC in it and it isn't used for the same uses [as] marijuana," she said. "[Hemp Fest] is a very informative event as to the actual uses of hemp, instead of the assumed uses of hemp."

Many of the booths at Hemp Fest sought to illustrate the variety of possible uses of hemp.

"Hemp is nature's greatest miracle, first for its sustainability, then for everything that it can be used for — literally everything: food, fibers, textiles, plastics, paint, biofuel, insulation, drywall, car parts, soap, [and] cosmetics," Latimer said.

Another advantage of hemp is that it is much more sustainable than cotton or tree products. According to NORML's website, hemp yields more product per acre than cotton and requires less pesticides.

"I think it's really important, as we attempt a more sustainable way of living, that we have the knowledge that there are other products that are less harmful to the environment and more beneficial to ourselves," said Lindsay Weber '09, who volunteered at the festival.

John Dvorak, who runs Hempology.org, was the keynote speaker for the event. He spoke about how cannabis could be incorporated into academic curriculum in a variety of subjects, including earth and environmental sciences, economics, and anthropology.

"Write papers about it," he said. "Study it. Publish or perish."

Dvorak elaborated on the economics of hemp, discussing how it could be beneficial for struggling farmers.

"Farmers need a new profitable crop," he said. "They're growing a lot of corn and soy, but they need something else. They're suffering the effects of prohibition [of hemp]."

In the United States, it is illegal for farmers to grow hemp, but it is legal to import it from other countries. One of the purposes of Hemp Fest was to bring this issue to the forefront of peoples' minds.

"The event is also supposed to leave those who attend asking themselves, why exactly is this illegal?" Latimer said.

Organizers attempted to eliminate the stigma associated with hemp products, one step in their mission to familiarize the country with the benefits of cannabis and work toward the legalization of hemp cultivation in the United States.

"It takes away the taboo of hemp," said volunteer Max Lavine '10 of the festival.

NORML meets on Wednesdays at 4:20 p.m. in PAC 004.

Source: The Wesleyan Argus
Author: Kim Segall and Isabella Vitti
Copyright: 2004, 2005, The Wesleyan Argus
Website: The Wesleyan Argus
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