It's not everyday one can walk down State Street and see up to 100 people march to the Capitol with some taking hits off of joints, others passing pipes and some chanting, "We smoke pot, and we like it a lot!"

These people rallied together through speakers and music Saturday to support Harvest Fest's effort -- education about the legalization and effects of marijuana.

"It's a chance to get out and meet like-minded people in the community," said Aaron Monroe, member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Monroe said he encourages people to be aware of their constitutional rights and to know drug policies.

Harvest Fest was about individual freedom for many people. The event was held on Library Mall, preceding the parade and rally to the Capitol.

"I value my personal liberty very highly and I don't trust the government to tell me what to do," Libertarian Party representative Richard Arthur Whitnable said.

The rally provided hope for many that, one day, marijuana will be legalized.

"Hopefully, this generation can do something," said 43-year-old Doug Daubenspeck, who was wearing a sign that read "Legalize 4-20" and periodically taking hits off of a joint.

However, despite the common assumption, not all Harvest Fest participants were marijuana users.

"I'm not a real big pot-smoker," said Karen Kruse, who had a T-shirt stand at Harvest Fest. "I feel that we need to stand up for our rights."

Medical marijuana was another heavily discussed topic at Harvest Fest. Many people favor using marijuana to help with various diseases, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, AIDS patients suffering from "wasting syndrome," glaucoma patients and those suffering from chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and a variety of spastic conditions, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

At the rally, several speakers gave accounts of sick loved ones who were denied the use of marijuana to help them cope with their pain.

Cards were available at Harvest Fest with the Fourth Amendment printed on them, designed to remind people of their legal right against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Monroe said that one of the things he wanted people to take away from Harvest Fest was the truth about drug policies so they may be better educated on them.

Another message of Harvest Fest was the ability, despite many people's perceptions, of a marijuana user to be a valuable member of society.

District 8 Ald. Austin King, who represents a student district largely populated with students, was one speaker at the event. He shared a story in which an older political figure called him a "pot-smoking underachiever," to which he responded, " I am not an underachiever."

The event culminated with a march from Library Mall to the Capitol where people gathered to hear more live music from The Scwillbillies, The First Liberation Saxophone Choir, Abe Lincoln and Gruvulous Glove, along with several speakers. Political activist Dan Goldman, one speaker at the event, encouraged people to be more proactive in political life.

"We, the people, control what goes on in this building," Goldman said.

King urged people to become more politically active.

"There is a lot we can do to make the world a better place," he said.

Pubdate: Mon, 06 Oct 2003
Source: Badger Herald (Edu, Madison, WI)
Copyright: 2003 Badger Herald