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Libertarians Improvise Pro-marijuana Speaker

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Auburn University's Libertarians encountered difficulty last Thursday when
Loretta Nall, president of the U.S. Marijuana Party, was unable to speak on
campus due to a personal scheduling conflict. The subject up for discussion
at the event was the war on drugs in America and the legalization of
marijuana movement.

Despite the dilemma, about 60 people turned out for the event.

As the crowd awaited a substitute speaker, Dick Clark, the president of
Auburn University's Libertarians and Auburn district chairman for the
Libertarian Party of Alabama, spoke about the fundamental beliefs of the
Libertarian Party.

"The Libertarian Party is about individual freedom and individual
responsibility," Clark said. "The Libertarian Party thinks that if you
don't violate anyone else's rights, that nobody should violate yours. That
includes what you're putting into your body. "We think that basic civil
rights should be protected and that the place of government is to protect
your life, and your liberty and your property. Basically, if you're living
peaceably, no one should mess with you," he said.

Mark Bodenhausen, 41, state chairman for the Libertarian Party of Alabama,
was the substitute speaker.

Bodenhausen began his speech by referring to America's war on drugs as
"useless and monstrous."

"It is impossible to win a war on drugs when everyone can do it and
everyone can create it," Bodenhausen said.

He went on to criticize the penalties that exist in the United States for
those caught with marijuana or drug paraphernalia.

According to Bodenhausen, a few years ago Alabama law changed to include a
prohibition on formerly legal parts of the marijuana plant.

He said the owner of Bohemian Rhapsody, a store in Birmingham, was
prosecuted by the Hoover police for marijuana trafficking because hemp
curtains were hanging in her store.

"It becomes an issue of how many people the United States government can
afford to put in jail," Bodenhausen said.

Bodenhausen said harsh penalties have caused a crisis in terms of how much
it costs to run the prison system.

The Libertarian Party has proposed a reduction in the number of people in
prison by letting out nonviolent drug offenders.

"There is no good reason to have the kinds of laws that we have in this
country that so particularly discriminate against one group of people,
especially those not engaged in harm or deception," Bodenhausen said.

Bodenhausen followed his statements about the war on drugs by telling the
audience what to do in order to make a difference. He said voters should
elect officials who support the decriminalization of marijuana.

Pubdate: Tue, 02 Dec 2003
Source: Auburn Plainsman, The (AL Edu)
Copyright: 2003 The Auburn Plainsman
Contact: letters@theplainsman.com
Website: The Auburn Plainsman