North Texas Daily

UNT students march for marijuana legalization

UNT students march for marijuana legalization

October 25
22:46 2010

By Adam Blaylock / Senior Staff Writer –

Student supporters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws heated up the sidewalks of UNT as they marched with signs and chanted in loud voices.

About 40 students, some in Halloween costumes, gathered at 2 p.m. Monday at the University Union then wound through UNT on a circular route in an event they called the Happy Halloweed NORML Awareness March.

The students shouted, “We mean green!” and “Pass the vote and the joint!” in unison as they marched past the Library Mall fountains.

Video by Katia Villalba / Multimedia Editor

Many of the students held up colorful signs with words like “Don’t be spooked by weed” and “Yes we cannabis.”

Erin Long, the president of the UNT chapter of NORML, said the group wanted to do something different to raise awareness.

“We just wanted to do something bigger that people could have fun at,” she said.

The group’s intent is to reduce the harms associated with smoking marijuana and educate the ignorant, said Larry Talley, the director of Dallas-Fort Worth NORML and UNT staff Sharepoint architect.

Talley came to show his support but would not participate in the march, he said.

“I’m hoping we can make a change here in North Texas,” Talley said.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, according to the national NORML website. Another 13 states, some of those with medical marijuana laws, have decriminalized marijuana.

The marchers received support from student bystanders as they marched through campus. Some students waved at them and shouted encouragements. Others shook their fists in the air and smiled.

Chad Gouge, a 39-year-old Fort Worth resident and assistant director for Dallas-Fort Worth NORML, said the chapter was there to support the UNT chapter with anything it might need.

“All they have to do is ask, and if it’s in our power we’ll do it,” Gouge said.

Gouge, who said he had just returned from a NORML conference in Oregon, said the difference in marijuana tolerance between Texas and Oregon was noticeable.

America has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prison population, Gouge said.

“And we’re supposed to be a free country?” he said.

Not all of the students the group marched past approved of NORML’s cause, however.

“Marijuana is illegal for a reason!” shouted one student who walked by.

A supporter offered the disapproving student an information packet on NORML, but the student declined.

Another student, Molly Deramus, a history junior, said legalizing marijuana might not have the effect the NORML marchers want.

“I’ve been in California, and it’s gonna be abused,” she said. “Yeah, it’ll get rid of crime, but the drugs — it needs to be monitored. I’m [older]. These are just kids.”

One student participant, kinesiology sophomore Harley Barlow, was dressed in a full body skin-tight Green Man suit, a character from the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”

Barlow said he got involved with the group for the camaraderie with other students interested in the cause, and he wants to dispel some of the stereotypes associated with the group.

“I’m just glad there’s a group of people with like-minded interests,” he said. “We’re not just a bunch of potheads.”

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