Pushing for change and fueled by politics, student motivation

The election year is just around the corner and one Missouri Southern student is working to get new law passed in Joplin. The man guiding the path of this bill is Kelly Maddy, a student at Southern. But Kelly Maddy can’t say what year or major he is because he has neither. Maddy doesn’t go to school for an education. He goes to school to start organizations.

Born and raised in Joplin, Maddy left high school early and obtained his GED so he could begin college at Missouri Southern in 2000. He has enough credits to graduate but continues to keep taking classes so he can keep his organizations going. His purpose on campus is to motivate students to be politically active against the war on drugs.

Maddy is the founder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, now run by his brother Kyle, and is currently head of the Joplin Chapter of NORML, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Organizing the 2005 Cannabis Revival was the inspiration Maddy needed to start Joplin’s own chapter of NORML. In the past few months he’s been actively organizing the 10th Annual Cannabis Revival, which was held in September at Landreth Park. The Cannabis Revival has become the Midwest’s largest marijuana law reform festival.

“It’s my obligation as a smoker, and I don’t want to be considered a criminal,” Maddy said. “I do it for the people who are sitting in jails and prison because of marijuana.”

Maddy recently stood in front of the Joplin City Council and proposed his Sensible Sentencing Initiative: A new law which would make possession of paraphernalia or small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor, and any persons caught in possession of marijuana would not serve jail time but face a fine of up to a $250. Maddy calls the current law is a “waste of police resources.”

“Our city’s marijuana laws are not only a waste of taxpayer money and police resources, they are by definition a failed policy,” Maddy said to the council.

Maddy is also a newlywed. He met his wife Adriel while working as a “toyologist” at Toys “R” Us when he was 16-years-old. They married on June 9 of this year, then set off to Amsterdam for their honeymoon, where they explored food, “good smoke,” canals and museums, including the Van Gogh Museum. In his free time he likes to sing karaoke and play music. He hopes to get a jam group together with other local musicians.

To find out more about the Joplin NORML and the Sensible Sentencing Initiative, persons may visit www.joplin-norml.org