Local marijuana reform interest group holds first meeting


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Representatives from Iowa chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws held their first-ever Iowa City meeting today at the Iowa City Public Library on Sunday to introduce themselves, talk about their goals this year, and share information regarding membership.

Crystal Brunt, the communications director for Iowa NORML and outreach coordinator for the Iowa NORML Women’s Alliance, pushed marijuana-law reform, especially for medicinal purposes.

“I’m really an advocate for patients in the state,” Brunt said. “I think it should be something that’s accessible to the patients; I think we should have a comprehensive program.”

Deputy Director for Iowa NORML Steve Morrow argued for a more level-headed approach to marijuana-law reform concerning the use of hemp.

“We’ve had everything from rice, bamboo, rubber, cotton, to provide textiles, to provide medicine, to provide other products,” Morrow said. “Why can’t we look with reason to hemp and not react with any hysteria or fear since we are using nature as nature intended?”

Quinn Symonds, the new chapter outreach director for Iowa NORML, offered tips to would-be members and activists, telling them to use social media while also reminding them donations are vital to their efforts.

“Using Facebook is a great way to get out targeted information to a targeted audience,” he said.
Executive Director of the Iowa chapter of NORML Aaron Schoeneman said the meeting was only to gauge interest, and as of now, an Iowa City chapter will not be started.

“If there are enough people who are interested in starting a chapter … that’s great with us, but right now there’s no official chapter,” he said.

Currently, there is the state chapter of NORML and a college chapter at Iowa State University.

The ISU chapter is embroiled in a freedom of speech lawsuit against the university after ISU prevented the group from using university logos on their T-shirts.

The group’s main goal for this year is to get two bills passed in the Iowa Legislature, said Carl Olson, a member of the Iowa Chapter of NORML.

Senate Study Bill 1005, filed on Jan. 13, by State Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, would first reclassify cannabis from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 2 drug, meaning it could be researched for medicinal and other purposes, and second, decriminalize small amounts of cannabis.

Simmons said the road to marijuana law reform will be difficult, but through creative grass-roots efforts such as NORML, they can accomplish their goals.

“We’ve got lobbyists from the alcohol industry against us, we’ve got big pharm going against us, but we’ve got the people with us,” Simmons said. “There’s so much that we can do this year, we’ve got our bar set high, no pun intended.”

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