Marijuana advocates will rally at the Oklahoma Capitol today to promote
legalization of the drug and raise awareness among politicians. "Most people
in the legislature don't keep up with the issue," said Norma Sapp, protest
coordinator. "It is time for us to come out of our hole and make our voices
heard."

According to fliers passed out on university campuses, including Oklahoma
State University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central
Oklahoma, three bands and a disc jockey from California will perform.

Among the musical acts will be The Bogarts, a Stillwater group.

Sapp said coordinators for the fifth annual event expect the largest crowd
ever.

"Last year was the largest with more than 550 people," she said. "I know
there is going to be a whole lot more than that this year."

Sapp said the goal of the protest is to reform marijuana laws, including the
legalization of the drug.

"We are locking up too many people," she said, citing statistics from
various anti-marijuana groups. "If we legalized marijuana, the prison
population would go down by 67 percent."

According to the latest report from the Office of Drug Control Policy, state
courts convicted more than 347,000 people of drug offenses in 1996, which
accounts for about 34 percent of all felony convictions.

The event is sponsored by Oklahoma NORML, a national organization calling
for the reform of marijuana laws. Sapp said she doesn't know the total
number of NORML members because there is no longer an official body in
Oklahoma.

According to -- http://www.forreal.org/ -- an anti-marijuana site, there are
no initiatives in Oklahoma calling for the legalization of marijuana.

"We don't really have an active chapter any more," she said. "People were so
paranoid to distribute information, we finally just gave up. We ended up
going to the flea market and opening a hemp booth. We had to use the
proceeds from that to finance ourselves. People were too busy buying bags
instead of donating."

Sapp said marijuana legalization is about more than drugs.

"It is a civil rights issue," she said. "Do we own our bodies or not? Did we
not learn anything from alcohol prohibition?"

Sapp said the American Civil Liberties Union, the Oklahoma Libertarian Party
and anti-marijuana groups will have information tables at the event.

According to the flier, the event is not advocating marijuana use at the
capitol.

"The big word is to not bring pot," Sapp said. "The police have already told
us they would increase police presence and bring drug dogs."


Newshawk: http://www.cannabisnews.com/
Pubdate: Fri, 20 Apr 2001
Source: Daily O'Collegian (OK)
Copyright: 2001 Oklahoma State University
Contact: letters@ocolly.com
Website: http://www.ocolly.com
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1275
Author: Ryan McNeill, Senior Staff Writer