IAP Activity of the Week
MIT Hemp CoalitionAaron D. Mihalik
Associate Features Editor
MIT Hemp Coalition, now in its second year of existence, sponsored a water pipe design competition during this Independent Activities Period. The class, entitled “For Tobacco Use Only: Topics in Advanced Water Filtration” was surrounded in controversy because of the illegal activities associated with water pipes and other drug paraphernalia.
Getting the class approved by the IAP Policy Committee “wasn’t as easy as other classes that tried to get through,” said Justin A. Kent ’00, MITHC president.
At first the IAP Policy Committee was “concerned with the legality, for our own protection,” said Kent. “But they didn’t want to stop us from running a class as long as it’s legit.”
To make sure that the class did not run into any legal problems, the coordinators put an emphasis against promoting the use of illegal drugs.
“You can’t say that you are going to use these pipes for smoking things that are illegal,” said Kent. “We don’t want to get ourselves in trouble and we don’t want to get anyone taking this class in trouble.”
Engineers produce unique designs
The designs created by the participants push the limits of water pipe engineering. “This is MIT and it is a design competition,” said Kent. “We want some engineering to go into it.”
The entries were judged in three different categories: aesthetics, usability and creativity. A winner was selected in each category and an overall winner was selected.
Overall, ten entries were submitted to the contest. Some of these were “designs I’d never dreamed of,” said Kent. “They were pretty off the wall.” Some used “crazy physics” to draw smoke through the apparatus. Also, one group made a water pipe out of an institute phone.
Entries were judged by Chris Simunek from High Times magazine. Students from MITHC met him at the freedom rally and “ran they idea past him ... and he was very excited” to judge, said Kent. Simunek will publish pictures of the entries in a future issue of High Times magazine.
MITHC raises public awareness
MITHC is a chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. MITHC sponsors several events during the year to raise awareness of their issues.
“The whole point of running this class, even through it’s fun, is to raise awareness of important issues,” said Kent.
Past MITHC events include a display in Lobby 7 during last term. The exhibit was entitled “Shattered Lives: Causalities of the Drugwar.” The display was to make students aware of prison costs and other aspects of the war on drugs.
“You can’t incarcerate your way out of a problem, and that is what [legislators] are trying to do,” said Kent.
Besides being active in the MIT community, MITHC has participated in several regional activities.
Last September MITHC helped out with the annual Freedom Rally in the Boston Commons. The rally is sponsored by Massachusetts Cannabis Coalition. MITHC collected signatures for a marijuana deregulation initiative.
Also, MITHC has been involved in try to repeal the Higher Education Act of 1998. This act delays or even denies federal financial aid to drug offenders.
MITHC receives its funding through bake sales, t-shirt sales, an annual April 20 barbeque and funding from the ASA.