Guest Column: Just a NORML fundraiser

Guest Column: Just a NORML fundraiser

By By Bryan Brickner, Ph.D.

On Sept. 14-15, a benefit and celebration will be held at Lungo’s Landing in Loves Park for the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). The two days of live music, guest speakers and hemp products are organized by Sara Stevens and Sativa’s Temple Productions as a benefit for Illinois NORML. For the last 30 years, NORML has been the leading advocate for the end of marijuana prohibition. The Illinois Chapter of NORML has been active for just over a year. We are an all-volunteer outfit working to end marijuana prohibition. Sadly, during the last 30 years of prohibition, more than 700,000 Illinois citizens have been arrested for marijuana. To me, that is a lot of good people going through a small hell. When the arrest involves medical marijuana, the effects to the patient/criminal can be life threatening.

Marijuana smokers are no different than their nonsmoking peers, except for their marijuana use. They are not a part of the crime problem and should not be treated like criminals. Responsible marijuana use causes no harm to society and should not be of interest to state and federal law enforcement. Far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than from the use of marijuana itself. Illinois NORML supports decriminalization for the private possession of marijuana by adults, cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. Our marijuana policies should discourage irresponsible use, including the use by adolescents.

And let’s face it, can we still afford the marijuana tax? Illinois arrests 45,000 citizens every year for marijuana. If we conservatively estimate an arrest to take one hour, then that’s 45,000 police hours spent on protecting us from the “dangers” of marijuana. In other words, the taxpayers of Illinois spend the equivalent of 5,625 eight-hour police shifts just arresting marijuana users. That is simply wasting a valuable resource, and it’s time to change the law.

On Saturday at Lungo’s Landing, the music runs from 6 p.m. to close; on Sunday, from 4:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday’s musical shakedown comes from The Blues Monks, Obie Call, The Calico Cats, Los Mineros and Speargrass. Sunday’s line-up of bands has Intrepid Delirium Dove Load, Kadigimonk, Freeform Sessions and The Seed Band. Thanks to all the bands for donating their time. $10 donation at the door; gather to change the laws, not to break them.

For more information, go to IllinoisNORML.ORG or call Lungo’s at 815-877-8455. Bryan Brickner is the chairman of Illinois NORML.

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