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Activism

MIT Hemp Coalition

Though it was just founded last fall, the MIT Hemp Coalition, MIT’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has already swelled to over 150 people, including some staff and graduate students.

The Hemp Coalition is an activist group whose goal is to end the prohibition of marijuana. They share the conviction with NORML that it is time to stop arresting responsible marijuana smokers: “arresting these otherwise law-abiding citizens serves no legitimate purpose; extends government into inappropriate areas of our private lives; and causes enormous harm to the lives, careers, and families of the more than 500,000 marijuana smokers arrested each year in this country,” NORML said in a policy statement).

They also see the value of marijuana as medicine for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, AIDS patients, glaucoma patients, and those suffering from chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and a variety of other conditions. Additionally, members recognize the hemp plant as one of nature’s strongest and most versatile agricultural crops. Various parts of the hemp plant may be utilized for making paper, textiles, cosmetics, paints, insulation, and animal feed, among a myriad other uses. Until very recently, all 50 states prohibited growing this non-psychoactive strain of marijuana. However, industrial hemp can now be grown legally in North Dakota, and the MIT Hemp Coalition would like to see an end to the interdiction of the hemp plant throughout the U.S.

During their first year, the group received invaluable support from the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition, this state’s affiliate of NORML. Most notably, they loaned the MIT group an exhibit entitled “Shattered Lives: Human Rights Atrocities of the Drug War,” which we displayed in Lobby 7. The exhibit was designed to bring awareness to the general public and policy makers about the human casualties and costs of the U.S. Drug War. MassCann’s president delivered a lecture at MIT about the history of marijuana prohibition.

With a year’s experience under their belts, the Hemp Coalition is looking to have an even more effective year. Among their plans for 1999-2000 are a teach-in and a voter registration drive in Lobby 10. Members will also be volunteering at this year’s Freedom Rally which is to be held September 18th on the Boston Common. The goal at the Freedom Rally is to collect as many signatures as possible from registered voters to help MassCann’s initiatives make it onto the ballot in 2000. Six initiatives were launched (the texts of which can be found at <http://www.masscann.org>), many of which covered the issues of medical marijuana and decriminalization. For the spring the group is planning a repeat of last year’s 4/20 BBQ, which members hope will be a larger event including live music.

The MIT Hemp Coalition meets every other week at 8 p.m. Members vote on a day of the week that is most convenient and allows the largest number of people to attend. They meet often, though not always, in the Talbot Lounge of the East Campus dormitory. Meetings are open to all. The group includes a good number of members from other colleges in the Boston area who do not have NORML chapters at their schools.

For more information: <http://fourtwenty.mit.edu/norml/>, norml-admin@mit.edu.

Swass Distribution

Swass Distribution was founded to convey and maintain a sense of human reality. They are currently registering people to vote and planning Democracy Teach-In 2000.

For more information: <http://web.mit.edu/~swass/ >, yegg at mit.edu