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Rsos Aim To Educate About Marijuana Rights

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Marijuana activist and author Ed Rosenthal speaks to a classroom full of
students on Wednesday night at Gregory Hall. Rosenthal flew in from
California to discuss the war on drugs and the medicinal use of marijuana.
There will be a panel discussion on medicinal marijuana on Thursday night
from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Illini Union Ballroom.

Several registered student organizations attempted to enlighten University
students on their constitutional rights when dealing with police at a forum
Wednesday night.

The purpose of the "Flex Your Rights" workshop was to inform students of
their rights and power in connection to any sort of police searches and
seizures along with issues of marijuana, said Danielle Schumacher, senior
in LAS and president of local chapters of the National Organization for the
Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

The informal event was an interactive discussion with the audience that
allowed them to ask questions that could be applied to any police
encounter, but generally focused on issues pertaining to marijuana.

One of the main speakers at the workshop was Ed Rosenthal. Rosenthal was
tried for marijuana cultivation and conspiracy, stemming from a business he
ran growing marijuana to be sold for medical uses under a California city
ordinance. He was convicted in February 2003 and sentenced in June 2003.
Since being convicted he has been an activist for the use of marijuana for
medicinal purposes, writing books and magazine advice columns about the

"Something about smoking marijuana gets up people's dander and makes them
respond in a particular way," Rosenthal said. "(Smoking) is a rite. I think
society hates that whole ritual, so it's not so much being high that people
resent, it's the ritual."

The workshop was presented in connection with a forum taking place on
Thursday at the Union at 7 p.m. titled, "On the Front Lines of the Drug
War: Medical Marijuana Activists."

Stephanie Johnson, freshman in LAS and publicity chair for the event said
the forum will feature speeches by marijuana activists from California and
Illinois who will be discussing the benefits of and controversy surrounding
use for medicinal purpose and the political process surrounding drug law

Rosenthal will be speaking at the forum along with members from Americans
for Safe Access and the state's NORML chapter.

Johnson said they will be discussing medical studies that show that
marijuana helps ease the pain of many diseases, such as glaucoma, and does
have biological benefits.

Schumacher said she believes marijuana has medicinal purposes and should be

"The laws in Illinois concerning (marijuana) have a lot of gray areas," she
said. "We don't see marijuana as being nearly as harmful as tobacco,
alcohol, heroine or other drugs both legal and illegal. It's not always as
bad as people think."

Schumacher said the forum will be both a comparative case study looking at
the situations in California and Illinois and a presentation showing ways
to help people with debilitating diseases.

Johnson said she encourages anyone who is at least remotely interested in
the issue to come out to the event.

Pubdate: Thu, 04 Dec 2003
Source: Daily Illini, The (IL Edu)
Copyright: 2003 Illini Media Co
Contact: opinions@dailyillini.com
Website: The Daily Illini - The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871